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Virus cases soar to 84, latest patients quarantined in Preah Sihanouk hotel

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
People wait for COVID-19 test results in Sihanoukville. Supplied

Twenty-nine French tourists and two Cambodians being quarantined at a hotel in Preah Sihanouk province’s Sihanoukville have tested positive for the virus after coming into contact with two COVID-19 patients, raising the tally to 84, according to a Health Ministry’s statement.

The ministry issued a statement last night saying 29 French nationals and two Cambodian tour guides aged 33 and 39 tested positive for the virus after coming into contact with the two French patients.

“They are tourists who came to Sihanoukville on March 18 and were going to leave on March 21,” it said, adding the Health Ministry ordered the closure of the Independence Hotel.

“The working team of the Health Ministry is searching for new cases,” it added.

Health workers take samples in Kampong Cham province. Supplied

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearom said yesterday provincial authorities imposed a 14-day quarantine for 37 people – 34 of whom are French nationals, and three Cambodians – in the Independence Hotel in Sihanoukville.

The two French tourists, aged 67 and 80, tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday night.

As of yesterday, there were patients, including 33 Cambodians, 12 Malaysians, three British, 33 French nationals, one Canadian, one Belgian and one Chinese – with the last one having since recovered.

Provincial Police Chief Major General Chuon Narin said yesterday provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun ordered Independence Hotel to be closed.

Maj Gen Narin said the hotel was cordoned off and none of people inside were allowed to leave.

“We have deployed our officers to block the hotel entrance and paved the way for officials from Health Ministry and provincial health department to work on the new cases,” he said.

Sechou Sethychot, deputy director of the provincial health department and head of the rapid response team, said yesterday searches are underway for people who may have directly or indirectly come into contact with the two patients and the 37 quarantined.

“This morning, we organised four groups of medical officers to search for the targeted people, especially at places where the 37 people visited,” said Dr Sethychot, adding samples of the 37 were sent to Pasteur Institute of Cambodia.

“These folks include a bus driver, a tour guide and a hotel receptionist. We have learned the [two] infected patients had visited Koh Russey so we plan to search for possible coronavirus patients on the island,” he said.

He said the 67-year-old French patients was airlifted to a Phnom Penh hospital yesterday for medical treatment because he had a lung disease.

“One of the two Frenchmen had a history of lung disease before he was infected with COVID-19,” he said. “His health condition seems serious.”

“We have contacted the French embassy and the Ministry of Health. They allowed him to be transferred by helicopter to Phnom Penh,” he added.

Dr Sethychot said the health of the 80-year-old man was normal as of yesterday and he is given medical treatment at the provincial referral hospital.

As of yesterday nearly  200 people were placed under quarantine in the capital, Preah Sihanouk and Kampong Cham provinces after coming into contact with COVID-19 patients.

In Kampong Cham, a total of 115 people have been quarantined in Kang Meas district after directly or indirectly coming into contact with coronavirus patients, said provincial hall spokesman Chea Krouch.

The Health Ministry on Thursday said six Malaysian nationals aged between 26 and 62, who were staying in the district tested positive for the virus. The following day, another Malaysian, 39, was also diagnosed.

All patients, said Mr Krouch, are receiving medical treatment at the Kampong Cham Provincial Referral Hospital.

Samples of 40 people who came in direct contact with the patients had already been sent to Pasteur Institute. They have been placed under a 14-day quarantine in their homes awaiting their results.

An ambulance enters the Independence Hotel in Sihanoukville last night. Supplied

“We instructed them not to leave their homes for the time being. Only if their results come back negative will we allow them to go outside,” said Mr Krouch.

He said provincial governor Un Chanda has expended his best efforts to enforce protective measures for the public, especially in three communes in Kang Meas district which are considered to be the hot spots for the infection.

“We appeal to people – if they have come into contact with the infected persons, please inform the authorities immediately so health department officials can examine them right away,” Mr Krouch said.

Lastly, 36 people in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district were also quarantined after coming into contact with three coronavirus patients, said district governor Keo Pisey.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said yesterday more people had been quarantined though she said she could not provide specific figures.

She said, as of yesterday, samples from nearly 2,000 people suspected of the virus were tested at the Pasteur Institute.


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