Local Covid-19 Cluster Up to 14 With Eight New Cases Found

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Coronavirus (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
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The total number of Covid-19 cases in the cluster around prisons chief Chhem Savuth has reached 14 due to local transmission following more than 3,000 samples taken across the country, authorities said.

The Health Ministry said Monday morning that it found eight new cases in the “November 28” cluster:

  • The wife of a deputy director of prisons.
  • The wife of an IT staff member at the Interior Ministry.
  • Two family members — an aunt and 7-year-old nephew — of previous cases in the cluster.
  • Two contacts of previous cases.
  • The nephew of a bodyguard of a previous positive case.
  • A family member of a driver of a previous case.

Some 3,332 people have been tested, and 2,248 results were returned as of 1:30 a.m., it said. The remaining samples will continue to be analyzed, and testing of contacts will continue today.

The ministry urged contacts to stay in quarantine, and said the Sokha Hotel has been made available as a quarantine center free-of-charge.

“This work is really important to cut off the transmission from individual to individual, from individual to family and from individual to community,” it said in a statement.

A second round of tests will be conducted on December 8 and a third round on December 12.

The prison director Savuth and five of his family members were confirmed to have Covid-19 over the weekend. Savuth’s wife had cold symptoms for three days and was tested at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital on Saturday.

Aeon Mall has been closed temporarily after the woman visited the Phnom Penh shopping mall. Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine told reporters the visit was on Saturday, November 21.

Phnom Penh Hotel was also being closed after she went to its gym.

The woman lives in both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh’s Borey Peng Huoth, according to authorities.

“[We] still haven’t found the head or tail of it yet. Where it comes from — this is the point we’re worried about most,” Hun Sen said in a live video broadcast posted to his Facebook page early Monday.

“We need to act at a high speed and on a large scale,” Hun Sen said. “This is not a time for blaming … it is the time to unite to fight Covid-19.”

More than 3,000 samples were taken from across the country, and among the new positive cases was one in Siem Reap, he said.

The Health Ministry said Sunday that quarantine centers in the provinces of Siem Reap, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri and Banteay Meanchey were prepared to take in suspected contacts of the woman and five relatives.

Testing centers were set up at the Interior Ministry, Khmer-Soviet hospital, Aeon Mall and Prey Sar Prison.

Hun Sen earlier said that Interior Minister Sar Kheng, Justice Minister Keut Rith and Bin Chhin, the minister in charge of the cabinet, had recently met with Savuth and would need to go into quarantine.

Updated at 11:30 a.m. with details of new cases.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. with date of Aeon Mall visit.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the time Hun Sen posted his video.

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