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Cambodia Bans Entry From Five Countries, Records Two New Virus Cases

FILE: Girls wear mask in the park in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 1th, 2020. (Malis Tum/VOA Khmer)
FILE: Girls wear mask in the park in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 1th, 2020. (Malis Tum/VOA Khmer)

Cambodia has banned entry of foreigners from Italy, Germany, Spain, France and United States for 30 days effective March 17th, as Phnom Penh recorded two more cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday.

A Ministry of Health statement released Saturday morning banned the entry of foreigners from the five countries, the first time Cambodia has introduced entry restrictions since the viral outbreak.

However, officials have not enforced similar restrictions for other countries with high number of cases, such as Iran, South Korea, Japan or China.

“This measure was made after we rapidly found foreigners with COVID-19 [in Cambodia], those foreigners have different nationalities and were travelling from abroad, where there is a COVID-19 outbreak,” said Or Vandine, spokesperson at the Ministry of Health.

However, Or Vandine did not clarify if only citizens of the five countries were restricted from entering Cambodia, or if the ban included other nationalities travelling through those countries.

She added that all but one case in Cambodia were “imported” cases, and that there had been no evidence of community transmissions. The one Cambodian who contracted the disease, she said, got it through direct transmission.

On Friday, health officials confirmed that two other foreigners – a Belgium and Canadian national – had tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Phnom Penh, according to Or Vandine. She added that two people had travelled abroad and returned with the virus, classifying it another case of “imported” infections.

The Belgian national has been quarantined at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital, with Canadian man quarantined at home, the Health Ministry spokesperson said.

The Canadian man works at the Canadian International School at Koh Pich, Or Vandine said, and the students have been placed in 14 days of self-quarantine.

“We will continue to do contact tracing, close or indirect, in accordance with the epidemiology [guidelines]. We will have updates about our plan with the school,” she said.

The Belgian man worked for an international organization, which had requested the ministry to not reveal its identity.

Cambodia has seen an uptick in cases recently, with three British nationals testing positive aboard a river cruise originating from Vietnam. The remaining 61 passengers and crew members have been quarantined at a hotel in Kampong Cham province.

A Cambodian man tested positive for the virus last week, after he came in contact with a Japanese man who also tested positive in Nagoya, Japan, hours after he left the Kingdom.

The total number of case worldwide has crossed 132,000 and there have been close 5,000 deaths, most from China where the virus is believed to have originated, according to the World Health Organization.

The global health body’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Europe had become another epicenter of the viral pandemic, recording more cases and deaths outside of China.