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Covid rapid testing underway after Pchum Ben festival

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A man undergoes a swab test for COVID-19 in his office in Phnom Penh. Hean Rangsey

Covid rapid testing underway after Pchum Ben festival

With the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday finished, all public and private institutions have begun testing staff and officials for Covid-19 in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training to prevent large-scale transmission of Covid-19.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on October 10 that he supported the guidelines and said the ministry had always tested its officials for Covid-19 on Wednesday of each week.

“I supported rapid tests after this Pchum Ben holiday for safety and participation in controlling and preventing the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

Ly Sovanna, executive director of the Catholic Nations Office for Social Communication in Cambodia, also told The Post that he and more than 10 staff members took the rapid tests on the first day of work after the holiday.

“This post-holiday test is the right thing to do, and I agree that everyone has to do it because during this break, we do not know where they went or whom they met,” he said.

Sovanna added that the test was also to help relatives or friends they met during the holiday. If anyone is tested positive for Covid-19, they can immediately report the case and be treated or kept in quarantine in a timely manner.

Nguon Seng, sales executive of Kirirom Food Production (KFP), told The Post on October 10 that KFP also tested more than 100 employees for Covid-19 on Friday.

“More than 100 of my employees have already been tested. None of them was positive for Covid-19 and they returned to work as normal. I support this measure because it protects everyone from the coronavirus,” he said.

Ngy Mean Heng, director of the Phnom Penh municipal health department, said on October 8 that Phnom Penh was ready to respond to any outbreak of Covid-19 resulting from the Pchum Ben holiday.

Municipal governor Khuong Sreng has also provided rapid test kits to the Department of Education, Youth and Sport to test teachers in all educational institutions in Phnom Penh, and the Department of Health will also test its officials on October 11.

“We will conduct the tests because we fear that some of them may have contracted the coronavirus during the holiday as we have seen some pictures showing people gathering in large crowds as if they are not living in the Covid-19 era,” he said.

He said there remain 11 treatment and quarantine sites available in the capital.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on October 3 issued a circular strengthening health measures to control the spread of Covid-19 during and after the Pchum Ben festival. He urged relevant authorities to be vigilant during the holiday and to administer Covid-19 rapid tests to factory workers, civil servants and employees in the private sector after the holiday.

He emphasised that the rapid tests were to ensure safety as well as to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in ministries, educational institutions, factories and other business establishment.

Labour minister Ith Sam Heng also recommended the rapid tests but said they were to be conducted on a voluntary basis and no fines would be imposed on owners or the management of factories and enterprises.

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