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No major closures for ‘Feb 20 event’

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Students at Bakheng primary school in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district last month. Hong Menea

No major closures for ‘Feb 20 event’

Despite the detection of an outbreak of community transmission of Covid-19 in central Phnom Penh on February 20, the government has yet to announce school closures or a ban on traditional gatherings, though mandatory preventive health measures remain in place.

Prime Minister Hun Sen addressed the nation that day, stating that the Ministry of Health had detected 32 confirmed cases of Covid-19 within a 10-hour period after some visa applicants had tested positive.

“I haven’t issued an order to close down gatherings such as weddings or group meetings. This week I myself have to attend programmes at the Ministry of Interior and another one for the grand opening of a hotel. I won’t cancel them. But everyone in attendance has to follow the recommended health measures for social distancing and maintain a distance of at least 1.3m.

“Residents of Phnom Penh must be very careful. If it isn’t necessary, don’t leave the house for now because we’re still doing contact tracing. Club N8 and some residential areas have been closed, but we still have to do contact tracing. If you stay home you can avoid any possible risks,” he said.

He also urged people to wear masks in public places and to continue with social distancing measures and he repeated that people should stay at home unless going out is absolutely necessary.

“I hope that the February 20 community transmission event will end this month if everyone cooperates and carries out the preventive measures attentively,” Hun Sen said.

On February 20, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport; the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training; and the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts issued separate notices instructing their officials to follow the preventive health measures and the guidelines of the health ministry.

In their notice, the education ministry told their officials that in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from the February 20 community event they have to continue to be cautious and to strictly adhere to the required health measures.

Education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha confirmed on February 21 that following the February 20 community event, the ministry has not yet closed any schools.

Pech Bolen, president of the Federation of Education Services in Cambodia, said that his organisation had already conveyed the notice and instructions from the education ministry on February 20 to follow the Covid-19 preventive measures mandated by the health ministry.

On February 20, the labour ministry issued a four-point measure to technical and vocational education and training institutions regarding the February 20 community event.

The ministry told directors, staff members and civil servants at these institutions to follow the health measures and wear masks, wash hands and socially distance.

The labour ministry also said to avoid closed spaces without ventilation as well as air-conditioned places or crowded spaces and to refrain from touching others or shaking hands.

The culture ministry also instructed cinemas, theatres and museums in Cambodia to continue carrying out the health measures for preventing Covid-19 infection but they were not ordered to close.

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