Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Ministry of Health to review the transfer of 26 Covid-19 patients at the National Olympic Stadium to other facilities in order to allow athletes to use the stadium to prepare for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), which Cambodia hosts next year.

Hun Sen gave the instruction on April 28 at a meeting with athletes who are headed to the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam soon.

“According to the numbers sent to me yesterday, there are only 93 Covid-19 patients left in the country and only 26 are in Phnom Penh,” he said.

With the number of Covid-19 patients having declined significantly, Hun Sen instructed the ministry and the municipal administration to discuss the transfer of patients from the Olympic Stadium to other facilities.

“We are constructing a hospital with the capacity to hold over 10,000 people and it will be completed early next year. We have transferred many patients at Olympic Stadium to other facilities and I don’t want to continue to keep patients at the stadium.

“Please discuss this matter. We could move the patients to Luang Mer Hospital or to Chak Angre Hospital in order to hand over the stadium for renovation and for the players to begin practicing there because we have only one year left until [SEA Games],” he said.

The ministry confirmed that as of April 28, there were only 93 Covid-19 patients in the capital and provinces – 26 in Phnom Penh; two in Takeo; seven in Preah Vihear; three in Stung Treng; 11 in Battambang; six in Pailin, six in Siem Reap; 24 in Oddar Meanchey; four in Banteay Meanchey; and one each in Preah Sihanouk, Kratie, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Thom.

“We must accelerate the construction of the Covid-19 treatment hospital even though the number of Covid-19 patients in Cambodia is declining. We must not find ourselves unprepared to respond to future public health emergencies involving other communicable diseases – not just Covid-19,” Hun Sen said.

Luang Mer Hospital – formerly a private hospital until purchased by the government to treat Covid-19 patients – will be transformed into a hospital specialising in the treatment of cancers in the future.

“I agree with my daughter-in-law that Luang Mer Hospital should be set up as a specialist hospital for cancer because there are so many cases,” said Hun Sen.

Municipal governor Khuong Sreng confirmed on April 28 that the hospital under construction for Covid-19 patients was scheduled for completion in early 2023 and will have beds to accommodate over 10,000 patients.