UPDATED 7 p.m. — More than 40 people in Siem Reap will be in quarantine for two weeks because they had contact with a Japanese national who tested positive for the Covid-19 respiratory disease after departing the country this week, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.
The Siem Reap Provincial Health Department found four people who had come in close contact with the Japanese man, and they would be quarantined for two weeks, ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said at a press conference.
The ministry’s Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Department said in a Facebook post that an additional 40 people were found to have been in “indirect contact” with the man and would also be quarantined for 14 days. It was unclear how the CDC defined this type of contact.
The four people who were in close contact with the Japanese man are under mandatory quarantine in the Siem Reap Provincial Hospital, while the 40 others are in voluntary self-quarantine and may stay in their homes, but are recommended to separate themselves from family members, ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said late Thursday.
Reached earlier in the day, Sovann said provincial authorities would search for individuals who had met with the man, even though his illness had not been detected during his four-day stay in Cambodia, from last Friday to Tuesday.
“We will discover people who could be affected through communication with him,” Sovann said. “We need to track it for 14 days.”
In a letter to the Foreign Affairs Ministry dated Thursday, Cambodian Ambassador to Japan Ung Rachana said the 40-year-old Japanese man had traveled to Cambodia twice in the last month. He first arrived on February 16 and departed for the Philippines on February 21, and then arrived again on February 28 before flying to Japan via Vietnam on March 3.
The man had reportedly started developing symptoms while in the Philippines, and then visited an unnamed hospital in Siem Reap, the letter said.
The Japanese government last month requested that Cambodia notify local news outlets not to identify Japanese nationals if they were to contract the virus in Cambodia.
The Cambodian government statements came after Vietnamese media reported on Wednesday that a Japanese national tested positive for Covid-19 after landing at Nagoya’s airport in Japan. He had traveled from Siem Reap International Airport on a Vietnam Airlines flight and transited through Ho Chi Minh City.
Covid-19 has spread to more than 60 countries since it was first detected in China in late December. The virus has infected an estimated 95,700 people, more than 53,400 of whom have recovered, and killed about 3,200, according to data from the U.S., E.U., China and World Health Organization (WHO) compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Cambodia has had only one confirmed case of Covid-19, a Chinese man who recovered and was released from quarantine in Preah Sihanouk province last month.
Additional reporting by Khan Leakhena
Updated at 7 p.m. with comments from Ly Sovann about the nature and location of the 44 people’s quarantine.