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Cambodia Reports Zero Cases for a Week; WHO Warns Still in “Early Stage of Pandemic”

Cambodians wear masks to avoid the contact of coronavirus in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Cambodians wear masks to avoid the contact of coronavirus in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

The Cambodian Ministry of Health has reported no new cases of novel coronavirus for the last eight days, a development the World Health Organization said was “really great news” but still warned that the country was likely in the “early stage” of the pandemic.

In a press conference Monday, Or Vandine, a Health Ministry spokesperson, said the viral respiratory disease can spread very fast, calling on people to continue to be vigilant despite no new cases found.

“We should be careful as always,” she said.

World Health Organization (WHO) country representative, Dr. Li Ailan, said Cambodia has to be prepared for community transmission despite the “really great news of zero cases” in recent days.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will not be over in any country until it is over in all countries,” she added.

As of Monday morning, there are 122 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 107 recoveries - representing more than 85 percent of the total cases.

Ministry figures also showed that 9,792 tests had been conducted since the start of the pandemic, up from the 8,909 tests reported last week. This shows that officials conducted only 883 tests last week, despite having the capacity to conduct up to 600 tests a day.

Ly Sovann, a spokesperson of Health Ministry, said the numbers of tests decreased in recent days because contract tracing and testing reduced because there were no new cases.

“Before, we did more than test than that,” he said. “We can’t say when will we stop doing tests or not.”

Dr. Laurence Baril, with the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, clarified that little less than 6,000 individuals have been tested for the novel coronavirus.

“So, in terms of people, it is a little bit less than 6,000 individuals tested and that represents over 9000 tests,” Dr. Baril said in the press conference.

Another ministry spokesperson, York Sambath, chimed in adding that for a positive case it took around 10 to 11 tests from diagnosis to recovery.

Cambodia health officials say more than 10,000 workers who just come back from hometown after Khmer New Year will be health checked and quarantined for 14 days before allowing to work.

In the press conference, Health Minister, Mam Bunheng, said the ministry is working with the Ministry of Labor, medical workers, and local authorities are now working on the case, which he can’t give comments on whether workers are suspected with the virus or not.

The workers will be checked with temperature and their health and tests will be conducted only if the workers display symptoms.

Additionally, Ly Sovann said that more than 90,000 migrant workers had returned to Cambodia but only around 400 had been tested.