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Cambodia Reports 10 More Cases; Tally Increases By 40 Cases In A Week

FILE: People with mask on are walking in the park in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 11th, 2020. (Malis Tum/VOA Khmer)
FILE: People with mask on are walking in the park in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 11th, 2020. (Malis Tum/VOA Khmer)

Cambodia’s coronavirus count increased by 10 new cases as of Thursday night, after the Ministry of Health reported that four Cambodians and six Malaysian nationals had tested positive for the virus, taking the total number of cases to 47.

The recent spike in cases comes as Cambodia banned all Vietnamese nationals from entering the country, a day after Vietnam closed several border crossings and enforced visa restrictions on all nations, including those with visa exemptions like Cambodia.

In a ten-minute audio clip made public on social media, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Vietnam had closed the border to stem the spread of the virus, which is why Cambodia had decided to do the same.

In the last seven days, Cambodia has seen its coronavirus tally increase by 40 new cases, of which 26 were Cambodian citizens. Many of the Cambodians were returning from a religious congregation in Malaysia earlier this month, where hundreds of cases across Southeast Asia are thought to have originated from the meeting.

Of the four Cambodians who tested positive on Thursday, two were the spouses of Cambodians who had returned from the religious meeting in Malaysia and had also tested positive earlier this week.

One of the two women, who tested positive, said health officials informed her of the results Thursday morning. She added that her children had also been tested, with those results coming back negative.

The woman said she had a mild cold and no other symptoms, and was unconvinced she had contracted the respiratory disease.

“I still question that. I think I have no virus. My health is fine. I don’t have any symptoms,” said the woman.

The Ministry of Health statement announcing the new cases reported that the woman had been moved to a local hospital, however, she told VOA Khmer on Friday that she was still at home.

“They said I was at the hospital. But I am now at home,” she said Friday morning.

Two other Cambodians tested positive, both of whom had traveled to Malaysia as well. With these new cases, there are 23 Cambodians who have tested positive for the virus this week, after having recently attended the religious gathering in Malaysia.

Of the ten cases yesterday, six Malaysian nationals in Kampong Cham province were found to have contracted the respiratory disease.

As cases increase in the region, ASEAN countries are enforcing travel bans and visa restrictions within the region. Indonesia on Wednesday announced suspension of all visas and temporarily suspended entry to foreign nationals, even for countries with visa exemptions.

In a statement released Thursday, the government also asked Vietnam not to send its citizens to Cambodia, and hoped that the two countries could work together to facilitate the transport of goods across the border.

Cambodia still relies on critical imports from both its larger neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam, especially for food imports, such as meat and vegetables.

(Additional Reporting by Nem Sopheakpanha)