Cambodia’s Covid-19 Case Count Rises to Three

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A woman walks by the Health Ministry in Phnom Penh on January 29, 2020 (Panha Chorpoan/VOD)
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Cambodia has confirmed its third case of Covid-19, a 65-year-old British woman who had been on a cruise ship that left from Vietnam, Health Minister Mam Bunheng said on Tuesday.

The woman has been quarantined in a Kampong Cham hospital and is receiving treatment, Bunheng said during a press conference.

The minister said Pasteur Institute of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, which has been conducting Covid-19 testing, confirmed the woman’s positive result at 4:30 p.m.

The woman had flown with four other U.K. nationals from London to Hanoi, arriving on March 2 for a cruise, Bunheng said.

The five later departed Ho Chi Minh City on March 5 on a cruise ship with about 30 passengers, arriving in Phnom Penh on March 7. Before the ship arrived in Phnom Penh, ship staff received information that the British woman had been seated on the plane next to a Vietnamese national who tested positive for the virus upon their arrival to Hanoi, the minister said.

The five were sent to Phnom Penh’s Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital to be tested for Covid-19. Three of the five tested negative while the other two declined to provide samples, claiming they had no health issues or symptoms, according to Bunheng.

The ship then continued on to Kampong Cham province, where the two British nationals who initially declined, then agreed to provide samples, which were sent to Pasteur on Monday. One of the two, the 65-year-old woman, tested positive. The other tested negative, but is being quarantined on the ship, Bunheng said.

Thirty additional passengers and 34 crew members will not be allowed to leave the ship while waiting to be tested for the virus, he added.

Covid-19, a new respiratory disease, has spread to dozens of countries since it was first detected in China in late December.

The virus has infected more than 116,000 people, more than 64,000 of whom have recovered, and been linked to more than 4,000 deaths, according to data from the U.S., E.U., China and World Health Organization (WHO) compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Public health experts have raised concerns that Cambodia and other Southeast Asian nations may have undetected cases. Amid public fears and travel restrictions in various nations, Cambodia’s tourism sector has taken a hit in the first two months of the year.

Next month’s annual Angkor Sangkran festivities in Siem Reap have been postponed, following the government’s announcement on Saturday that a Cambodian man — the first national confirmed to have contracted the disease — tested positive and was placed in hospital quarantine.

He was one of four people to have direct contact with a Japanese man who tested positive for the virus last week after departing Cambodia.

In February, Cambodia confirmed its first Covid-19 case, a Chinese man who recovered and was released from hospital quarantine in Preah Sihanouk province the same month.

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