Two security guards have been arrested for their alleged involvement in allowing four Chinese women to leave Covid-19 quarantine earlier this month, sparking the latest coronavirus cases.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Saturday that Sokha Hotel security had allowed the four women to leave quarantine, with two of them later testing positive for Covid-19 after others in the cluster received tests in order to go overseas.
With 35 more Covid-19 cases announced Monday morning, the country had an official count of 93 active coronavirus cases, the most so far recorded at one time in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police spokesperson San Sokseyha said on Monday that the two guards were being held at the Chak Angre Health Center in Phnom Penh to undergo two weeks of quarantine, and would be punished when the period was over.
He would not specify when the arrests were made, the details of their alleged crimes, whether they worked for Sokha Hotel, or whether they faced potential criminal charges.
But the two guards would be fined under a recent sub-decree related to quarantine measures, Sokseyha said.
“As a first step, we cannot do anything yet because we are worried that [they] may be infected with the virus,” he said, though he did not say when they were tested.
Under a sub-decree passed last week, those who facilitate the evasion of quarantine can be fined 10 to 50 million riel, or about $2,500 to $12,500.
More than 20 hotels, clubs and other locations as well as seven schools have been temporarily closed down in the wake of the latest outbreak, which has also spread to Kandal province.
The identified locations include a hotel and condominium on Koh Pich island, which was barricaded on Saturday, and the N8 club near Olympic Stadium that authorities have said is central to the spread.
Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng would only say that the guards would face legal action.
“They surely must be punished. [We] surely have to do it,” Sreng said.
Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine declined to further specify the potential punishment against the two guards. Vandine claimed she did not have the latest figures of how many people have been tested so far in relation to the new cluster.
Pech Pisey, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, urged an investigation not only into the guards but also others in charge.
“Those two guards must be held responsible because public health is paramount. We should not let them do this,” Pisey said. “There should be an investigation, and if there is evidence, they should be sentenced in order to prevent similar conduct by other officers.”
Additional reporting by Khan Leakhena
(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)