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Kingdom ‘has done more virus tests than some neighbours’

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
A woman is tested for coronavirus at Chumpouvoan High School in Phnom Penh. KT/Chor Sukenthea

With no new reported coronavirus  cases over the past eight days, the Ministry of Health as of yesterday has tested nearly 10,000 specimens for possible infections in the Kingdom, showing a higher ratio compared with some other Asean members.

The ministry said in a statement yesterday that from January until Sunday, the Kingdom collected specimens from 9,702 people for testing, noting this was a high rate for a nation with a population of close to 16 million.

“Among per million Cambodians, up to 612 specimens were tested. This number shows Cambodia has conducted more specimen tests than some countries in Asean.” it said.


The ministry said Myanmar recorded only 76 specimen tests per million people while 181 were done in Laos, 144 in Indonesia and 511 in the Philippines.

“Despite having no new cases of COVID-19 over the past week and patients recovering daily with no deaths, we appeal to all people to continue paying high attention and be more careful and implement the instructions of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Ministry of Health to prevent any outbreak in the community,” the statement said.

Cambodia appears to have gotten the coronavirus situation under control with no new positive cases reported for eight consecutive days. There have been 122 cases in the Kingdom of whom 51 were Cambodians, 40 French, 13 Malaysians, five Britons, two Indonesians, two Americans, two Canadians, three Chinese, one Belgian and three Vietnamese.

Yesterday, two more people were reported to have fully recovered, bringing the total to 107, including one Chinese, five Britons, two Americans, one Belgian, 38 French, one Canadian, 12 Malaysians, two Indonesians, one Vietnamese and 44 Cambodians.

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng told a press conference yesterday the two who recovered are a 48-year-old man in Battambang province who returned from Malaysia and a 65-year-old French tourist in Preah Sihanouk province.

Currently, only 15 patients remain and are receiving treatment in several hospitals around the Kingdom.

According to media reports as of yesterday, there were more than 30,100 cases in Asean with 1,171 deaths.

There are 8,000 infected people in Singapore, 6,700 in Indonesia and 6,400 in the Philippines.

Singapore yesterday recorded more than 1,400 new cases, while Indonesia reported nearly 200 new ones and the Philippines had more than 200.

Workers wait to be tested at a school in Phnom Penh. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

Myanmar and Lao have fewer infections than Cambodia. Myanmar has 111 cases with five deaths and Laos recorded only 19 cases with no deaths.

Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said yesterday
the ministry is working closely with the World Health Organization, US Centres
for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Pasteur Institute to determine those who should be tested for possible infection.

“We have recorded nearly 10,000 specimen tests so far and if we compare with Asean members, we are among the top five,” he said. “If we compare with other Asian countries [tests per million people], we have a higher ratio compared with India and other South Asian nations.”


Mr Sovann said the ministry took specimens from those who directly and indirectly came in contact with people who tested positive and sent them for testing at Pasteur Institute.  “During the time when we found positive cases among those who recently returned from [a religious event in] Malaysia, we tested about 500 specimens per day because we found many people who had direct and indirect contact with the patients,” he said. “But in recent days, we have not found any new case and the number of those who came in contact with patients has also reduced.”

Mr Sovann said the number of tests in Cambodia have dropped from 500 to 150 daily since the Kingdom found no new case of COVID-19.

“Currently, we test between 150 and 200 specimens per day and normally need 24 hours before the results are out,” he said.
He added that “Despite not having new cases, neighbouring countries still have a high number.”

“Singapore previously said they have managed the situation, but in the past days the numbers have jumped again. So, we cannot be careless and need to be cautious at all times,” Mr Sovann added.

Dr Laurence Baril, Pasteur Institute director, said yesterday specimen testing was done on fewer than 6,000 people.

“In the early stage, Cambodia focused on suspected cases. We tried to detect, test, isolate all the cases and trace every close contact [the patients have come into], she said. “That’s the core medical response. Cambodia is really doing well. Now in the later stage, we have found we had a local chain transmission which means a cluster.”

“We advise the Ministry of Health to be a little bit more aggressive in contact tracing and testing because now we have more supplies,” Dr Baril added.

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