A Japanese businessman living in Siem Reap tested positive for the novel coronavirus after he reported symptoms and was tested in Nagoya, Japan, triggering the Cambodian Ministry of Health to put 44 people in isolation.
Four individuals – three Cambodians and one Japanese – who worked with the Japanese national in Siem Reap were immediately put in isolation and samples taken to test for COVID-19, said Siem Reap Health Department chief Kros Sarath.
“They came to our office and then we sent our team to disinfect their workplace,” Sarath said. “We also brought in the four staffers who have worked with the man for the past two days to keep in isolation.”
Additionally, forty other people, who likely came in contact with the man, are also in isolation, said Health Ministry spokesperson Ly Sovann.
“We have separated them from their family and are keeping a check on their health. If they show symptoms, we will test [them] immediately,” he said, adding that they were not exhibiting any symptoms of the viral pneumonia yet.
Ly Sovann asked anyone experiencing symptoms to immediately call the 115 health hotline to prevent further spread of the virus.
Provincial Governor Tea Seiha said that the infected individual lived in Siem Reap and was a businessman working out of the temple town.
The man was tested after arriving at the Chubu Centrair International Airport in Nagoya, according to a statement from the Cambodian embassy in Japan. The statement added that the man was on a flight to Nagoya, Japan, with a transit stop in Ho Chi Minh City, and said that he had also travelled to the Philippines in the last two weeks.
Siem Reap health officials Kros Sarath provided additional details about the Japanese man’s activities in Siem Reap. The 40-year-old man stayed in a rental room by himself and met his Japanese staffer on March 1 and three Cambodian colleagues on March 2.
The man, Sarath said, did get to a local clinic for a checkup for the flu on March 3. Sarath was unclear of the diagnosis or the clinic in questions, only to add that the Japanese man was worried he was sick and booked flights to Nagoya, where he then tested positive for COVID-19.
The Cambodian government has so far maintained that there has been only one confirmed case of the novel coronavirus, despite concerns domestically about the efficiency of its screening and monitoring mechanisms.
This week, the prime minister asked his government to prepare for the COVID-19 outbreak, which has now spread to more than 70 countries and infected close to 100,000 people globally.
Hun Sen asked for ministries to cut their capital expenditure by half, calling for no cuts to government salaries, with the Finance Ministry setting aside $30 million to deal with the epidemic.
Hun Sen’s announcements were in stark contrast to his earlier attempts to downplay the viral outbreak, where he even traveled to China to meet Chinese Premiere Xi Jinping and express his solidarity.