Schools, Movie Theaters to Be Temporarily Closed as Covid-19 Precaution

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Health officials disinfect playground equipment at the Canadian International School in Phnom Penh on March 14, 2020, in this photograph posted to the Education Ministry’s Facebook page.

All schools in Phnom Penh and towns in Kandal province are being closed for two weeks, while KTVs, movie theaters and museums will be shuttered across the country till further notice, after a Cambodian man who worked directly with a visiting Hungarian foreign minister was found positive for Covid-19 on his second test on Saturday.

In a statement released late afternoon Sunday, the Health Ministry said the tourism and culture ministries as well as municipal and provincial administrations were being asked to close all KTVs, movie theaters and museums starting today.

In a separate statement, the Education Ministry announced the closure of all public and private educational institutions for two weeks in Phnom Penh and Kandal towns.

The statement said the ministry was unable to collect enough information about quarantined parents and which schools their children attended.

“These educational institutions must continue their teaching and studies electronically,” said the statement, released on Sunday and signed by Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron.

Some 892 people have been tested for suspected direct or indirect contact with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, who visited the country on Tuesday and was later found to be positive for Covid-19.

A 31-year-old Cambodian bodyguard, who lives in Sen Sok district, developed a cough in the days following his first Covid-19 test and was retested on Saturday. He was part of Szijjarto’s guard during the visit.

All other tests have so far been negative, though everyone who has been tested has been asked to go into quarantine and take further tests on November 9, 14 and 18.

Szijjarto’s visit and positive Covid-19 test after his arrival in Bangkok have raised questions around breached quarantine protocols for diplomats and a lack of transparency in Cambodia’s testing regime.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the situation was serious, and advised people to wear masks and observe social distancing.

“[I] consider this a big public health issue as hasn’t happened in the previous 10 months,” Hun Sen said. He added that he would not be declaring a state of emergency.

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