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Anti-virus measures in place after travel ban lifted

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Foreign tourists arrive in the Kingdom at the Phnom Penh International Airport. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The government yesterday announced the lifting of the entry ban on people from six countries, more than two months after it was put in place to prevent imported virus cases from entering Cambodia.

A statement signed by Health Minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the Inter-Ministerial Commission for Combating COVID-19, said Prime Minister Hun Sen approved a request made by Health and Foreign Affairs Ministries to lift the entry bans.

He said the decision was made due to the progress of the COVID-19 situation in the country after the Ministry of Health announced on Friday the last of the 122 patients had recovered and was discharged from hospital, with no death reported.

“[We] lift the bans on foreigners from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the United States, who were listed in the Ministry of Heath’s announcement on March 14 and 15,” the statement said.

The decision was made more than a week after the committee held a meeting on May 12 to discuss easing coronavirus restrictions and reopening businesses in priority sectors in a bid to boost the national economy, which has been battered by the pandemic.

However, Mr Bun Heng said both Cambodian and foreigners who enter the Kingdom need health certificates which has been issued no longer than 72 hours to confirm they are free of the virus.

He said that foreigners need health insurance worth $50,000 during their stay in Cambodia and need to implement protective measures issued by the government.

Passengers arrive at the Phnom Penh International Airport. KT/Khem Sovannara

Mr Bun Heng said the measures would not be required for foreign diplomats or representative of the international NGOs and Cambodian diplomats and holders of official passports.

“All passengers, both Cambodians and foreigners who enter Cambodia must be sent to waiting centres to have their specimens tested for COVID-19 and wait for the test results from the Pasteur Institute before they are released,” he added.

He said in case one passenger is found positive, others who travelled with him will be placed under a 14-day quarantine.

“In such cases, all those passengers who test negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to self-quarantine for 14 days under monitoring by the local authority and health officials,” he said, adding that the passengers also need to retest on the 13th day of their quarantine period.

Or Vandin, a Health Ministry spokeswoman, yesterday declined to provide further comment when asked whether how long passengers should wait for the result of the tests at the waiting centre.

The government on March 14 announced an entry ban on foreigners from Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the United States for 30 days to prevent a spread of the virus.

The following day, those from Iran were also banned as an added measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In mid-April has extended the entry ban period indefinitely and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ordered all Cambodian missions abroad to enforce the order until further notice.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday welcomed the move but said the government needs to ensure there are no import cases into the Kingdom.

“Although we reopen the gates for people from those six countries to enter the Kingdom, I think not many of them will visit Cambodia because they have to transit countries which are in lockdowns,” he said. “We have strict conditions to prevent the outbreak and the government wants to show the world the COVID-19 situation in the Kingdom is under control.

Mr Phea said although Cambodia has reported no new case, the Kingdom is still at risk of a possible second wave of the coronavirus.

“If we cannot manage the foreigners, it would have a negative impact, such as import cases which could lead the second wave of the infection,” he added. “Cambodia is still considered as having a weak health system, especially health checks along the land border.”

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