Health Ministry Advises Against Weddings, Concerts, Group Dinners

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Authorities raise awareness of Covid-19 at an intersection in central Phnom Penh on April 15, 2020. (Chorn Chanren/VOD)

People should avoid social gatherings such as weddings, concerts, dinner parties and group exercise, and conduct meetings and workshops digitally where possible, the Health Ministry said Tuesday evening amid testing and contact tracing for Covid-19 cases related to a diplomat’s visit.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto visited the country a week ago and tested positive after flying to Bangkok. Four people who had contact with him in Cambodia have so far tested positive, and more than 1,000 others have been tested and asked to stay in quarantine.

The Health Ministry issued guidelines Tuesday evening saying people should avoid weddings, festivals, religious ceremonies, concerts, group dinners, birthday parties, housewarming parties and other social gatherings.

Events that would draw crowds should be postponed or canceled, the ministry said.

It added that meetings, trainings and workshops should be conducted digitally. In-person meetings that cannot be avoided should be held in a large area with air flow, with participants staying 1.5 meters away from one another. Participants should be checked for fever, wear masks and wash hands, it said.

The ministry said people with existing health problems, as well as the elderly and pregnant women, should be especially careful to avoid crowds.

People should also avoid hugging, kissing and shaking hands, and instead wave or nod from a distance of at least 1.5 meters, it said.

The message was heard being broadcast by officials using loudspeakers around Phnom Penh on Tuesday evening.

Officials from 13 government institutions who were suspected of direct or indirect contact with Szijjarto were asked to return for their second tests on Monday, while contact tracing has expanded to seven provinces outside Phnom Penh.

Prime Minister Hun Sen — who has himself gone into quarantine for two weeks — has urged the public to take the situation seriously but not panic.

Hun Sen presided over a signing ceremony with Szijjarto last week, where few government officials wore masks.

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