Authorities are closing “a little loophole” in Covid-19 quarantine procedures following the escape of two Chinese men from a hotel on Wednesday night, with officers on the chase and “accomplices” brought in for questioning.
The two Chinese nationals arrived in Phnom Penh on Tuesday around 11 a.m., according to the Health Ministry, matching the details of a China Eastern Airlines flight from Shanghai. The men, who tested negative for the virus, were to stay at a hotel for two nights to wait for the test results of all passengers on the flight, but fled the hotel after a night.
Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng said on Thursday that authorities were pursuing clues in the case.
“We’re using all means to find them,” Sreng said. “We have arrested their accomplices and we are working with them now to expose their whereabouts.”
Sreng said patrols around quarantine hotels would be tightened, calling the lapse in security “a little loophole.”
“We have to work hard to take serious action on this issue,” he said.
City Hall had contracted 10 hotels to act as temporary quarantine centers. They were responsible for what happens inside their premises, but City Hall was also deploying forces outside to help with security, Sreng said.
Police have remained mostly tight-lipped about the case, with municipal police spokesperson San Sokseyha saying only that the search was ongoing.
“When there are results, we will share,” he said.
Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine said in a message that the pair had escaped Wednesday afternoon following a quarrel among those in quarantine.
They had tested negative for Covid-19, she added.
The latest case marks at least the fourth reported escape from Covid-19 quarantine in Cambodia, with four people fleeing centers in Prey Veng province in two separate cases last month, and a Cambodian-American woman skipping out of a Phnom Penh hotel and traveling to Kampong Cham province in July.
Cambodia has recorded 274 cases of Covid-19 as of Thursday, with just one active case remaining.