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Three Cambodian blue helmets infected in Mali

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
A Chinese military medical team briefs Cambodian peacekepers on ways to avoid coronavirus during a visit to their unit in Lebanon on Friday. Supplied

Three Cambodian UN peacekeepers stationed in Mali have tested positive for coronavirus and are reported to be in stable condition.

Lieutenant General Phal Samorn, National Centre for Peacekeeping Force spokesman, said yesterday the three are stationed in the town of Kibali and are the Kingdom’s first cases of infected blue helmets.

“They are receiving treatment at a hospital and their condition is stable,” he said.

On Friday, Lt Gen Samorn, who is also deputy director-general of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Force, said the peacekeepers who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, include a 28-year-old woman and two men ages 24 and 49. All of them are from an engineering unit in Kidal.

82 other Cambodian blue helmets to be tested

He said the UN base in Kidal has requested its headquarters in Mali’s capital Damako to send a medical team to test 82 other Cambodian blue helmets stationed in the town.

Lt Gen added there are 300 Cambodian peacekeepers stationed in six areas in Mali.

“The UN is working on the case to find the source of the infection, and we are also waiting for results on the samples of the other 82,” he said.

He said all 82 have been placed in quarantine and their health is being monitored.

Lt Gen Samorn said some measures are already in place to protect Cambodian peacekeepers, currently fulfilling the UN missions in Mali, Central Africa, South Sudan, Lebanon, and Yemen from the coronavirus.

“We have provided soap and water and hand sanitisers at all our peacekeeping stations for them to wash their hands regularly and have asked them to wear masks,” he said.

During a press conference earlier this month, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for extra attention to be paid on Cambodian blue helmets amid the pandemic which has now globally infected more than 2.7 million people and taken over 190,000 lives.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health reported yesterday there were no new cases or recoveries as of Saturday and only five of the 122 cases recorded in the Kingdom are still receiving treatment. The rest have since recovered.

Among the 117 or 95.90 percent recoveries are three Chinese, five Britons, two Americans, one Belgian, 38 French, two Canadians, 13 Malaysians, two Indonesians, three Vietnamese and 48 Cambodians.

The remaining five victims in hospitals are three Cambodians and two French nationals.

The Ministry of Health again cautioned those who have recovered and discharged from hospital need to maintain a high level of self-hygiene and 14 days of self-isolation to ensure there is no relapse.

Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said yesterday said Cambodia remains ‘alarmed’ over the virus outbreak although no new cases have been reported over the past 13 days.

“It is a mistake to think we can forget about self-protection since Cambodia continues to record no infections,” she said.

She called on the public to remain highly cautious and always practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus from one person to another.

“At this point we are still concerned although our situation has eased, because the spread of COVID-19 remains a global threat,” Ms Vandine said. “So we have to be highly cautious and join together to prevent the spread of the virus in the Kingdom.”

She noted Cambodia is taking effective measures to prevent the virus spread in the community.

“It is a good sign for our Kingdom there is no new infection of COVID-19 for about two weeks but we have to be careful because our situation remains fragile,” Ms Vandine said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on his Facebook page yesterday urged the public to be careful about COVID-19, despite there being no new cases since yesterday with the number of recovered patients at 117 with five remaining in hospital.

“You should never look down [situation] on COVID-19 and be negligent about this disease as it will pose the highest risk of infection,” he said, calling for the public to adhere to the Health Ministry’s instructions on how to avoid getting infected.

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