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Cambodia Reports First Coronavirus Case in Six Weeks and Quarantines 62


A masked man walks out of an area of thermo scan at the quiet Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, April 3, 2020. Cambodia issued travel restrictions in order to reduce and contain the transmission of the new coronavirus. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodia on Thursday detected its first new coronavirus case in almost six weeks, the Ministry of Health said.

Test results for a 26-year-old Cambodian man from Kampot Province’s Kampong Trach commune came back positive on Thursday after his sample was taken upon his arrival late Wednesday, according to a Health Ministry statement.

The man flew from the Philippines to South Korea and then to Cambodia, when he arrived on Wednesday at around 10 pm, according to the statement.

Just this weekend, the government had announced that all 122 COVID-19 patients had officially recovered. The last case was detected on April 12.

The man was traveling with 62 other passengers, more than half of them are Cambodians. Onboard, were also 23 South Koreans, as well as Japanese, Belgian, Taiwanese, and Dutch travelers.

The patient is now being treated at state-run Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, the statement said.

“The other 62 passengers are quarantined for 14 days at a hotel in Phnom Penh,” the statement read.

The Health Ministry said all the passengers had been tested for COVID-19, and only one came back positive.

Or Vandine, Ministry of Health spokeswoman, said the passengers did not have health certificates that proved they were COVID-19-free. “They departed ahead of the announcement of the health certificate requirement,” she said in a message.

On March 27, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a notice that made it mandatory for all foreigners arriving in Cambodia to have such a health certificate, issued within 72 hours by recognized health authorities. Only holders of type-A and type-B visas were exempt from this requirement, which are reserved for diplomats and international organization staffers.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health extended this requirement to all people who arrived in Cambodia.

Vandine said the passengers might not have known about the requirement. “We announced [the requirement], but some Cambodians who are stuck overseas don’t have the means to get information, or they don’t have enough information. Maybe they don’t know,” she said. “It is normal that we implement tough measures, but our Cambodians overseas don’t have that information.”

Vandine did not respond to questions about whether foreigners traveling on the plane carried the required health certificate.

Cambodia on Wednesday lifted its ban on travel from the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Iran. This came nearly two months after the government first imposed the restrictions.

Travelers from those countries can now enter the kingdom again, but all arrivals – irrespective of their citizenship or their country of departure – will have to take tests and wait for results at a designated facility at the airport. If the tests come back negative, they will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. If they come back positive, they will have to quarantine for 14 days at a government-designated facility.

In addition to providing a COVID-19-free health certificate, foreigners are also required to have health insurance that covers costs of at least $50,000.

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