The government has ordered the closure of all public and private schools and several vocational training centres in Siem Reap town after a 38-year-old Cambodian man was confirmed Covid-19 positive on Saturday.
The announcement came from the ministries of Education Youth and Sport, and Labour and Vocational Training in direct response to the diagnosis.
The Covid-19 positive man is only the second person to have the virus in Cambodia, after the first involving a Chinese traveller who visited Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province.
The latest victim is believed to have been infected by a 40-year-old Japanese man who had passed through Siem Reap before travelling on to Japan, where he was diagnosed positive for the disease.
The Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport said: “Please, can education institutions, education officials, parents, teachers, caretakers, students, and the general public note that all public and private education institutions in Siem Reap town, Siem Reap province, are required to temporally close doors from this date until further notice.
“This measure has been taken in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 after a Cambodian man tested positive for the virus,” said the Ministry of Education’s press release.
Similarly, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issued a statement confirming the postponement of training at vocational and technical institutions and private recruitment centres in Siem Reap town, starting from Sunday. The ministry cited the same reason for its decision.
The two ministries reminded students and the public to participate in preventing Covid-19 from spreading by adhering to good hygiene practises as instructed by the Ministry of Health.
Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Sovichea said his ministry had issued hygiene instructions alongside its announcement to close the schools. He said the school closures would only come into effect in Siem Reap town and not the whole province.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday wrote on Facebook saying: “The intention of closing schools is to protect children who do not know protective measures.
“I hope that parents and caretakers try to make their children study hard during this temporary school closure.”
On Saturday, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng said in a press conference that a man was confirmed as Covid-19 positive and that he had come into direct contact with a Japanese man who had contracted the virus early last week.
“At 12:50pm on March 7, the Ministry of Health received confirmation from Institut Pasteur du Cambodge that a 38-year-old man has tested positive for Covid-19.
“Three others who came into contact with the man – two women and a man – have not tested positive for the virus. However, they will be kept in quarantine for monitoring.
“The Siem Reap provincial referral hospital is following up and giving the highest attention to the three others who will be in isolation for the next 14 days,” Bun Heng said.
A Ministry of Health press statement released on Saturday said a total of eight people had direct contact with the infected Japanese man. They included the 38-year-old Cambodian, two women, one man, a Japanese lady, and three family members of the 38-year-old infected Cambodian.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine has since confirmed that the three family members of the man did not test positive for Covid-19.
All of them are under quarantine at the Siem Reap referral hospital.
Also, the Ministry of Health said they were monitoring 40 other people who had indirect contact with the Japanese man.
It called on people who travelled to or from known Covid-19 infection areas to be on high alert of their health and practise simple hygiene measures as the ministry had instructed.
Those who have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, it said, should immediately go to a state hospital and report their travel history and health condition.
Ly Sovann, the director of the Communicable Disease Control Department, said on his Facebook on Sunday that those who had suspicious symptoms could be tested by doctors for Covid-19 free of charge.
He said if they were found Covid-19 positive, they would also get free treatment. This offer was extended to both foreigners and Cambodian nationals.
On Saturday, he said the Cambodian who was tested positive is in stable condition.
Cambodia, he said, was working closely with local authorities, officials from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC).
Siem Reap provincial hospital director Kros Sarath declined to comment on the case and referred questions to the Ministry of Health. However, when contacted, Vandine referred The Post’s enquiries to the ministry’s press release.
In addition to closing schools, Prime Minister Hun Sen has also cancelled the Angkor Sankran festival in mid-April that is held in conjunction with Khmer New Year.