Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Preah Sihanouk prison Covid-19 cases may be from asymptomatic detainees

Preah Sihanouk prison Covid-19 cases may be from asymptomatic detainees

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The novel coronavirus has now spread to Preah Sihanouk provincial prison with 34 detainees testing positive on May 8. Directorate General of Prisons

Preah Sihanouk prison Covid-19 cases may be from asymptomatic detainees

The novel coronavirus has now spread to Preah Sihanouk provincial prison, with 34 detainees testing positive on May 8.

According to an announcement by the provincial administration on May 9, some of the Covid-19 positive inmates are Chinese nationals.

They were among the 126 new cases in total – including factory workers, vendors and their family members – reported in the coastal province on May 8.

The administration called on those who have had contact with the new Covid-19 patients to report to the local authorities and be tested, and to then self-quarantine.

General Department of Prisons spokesperson Nout Savna told The Post on May 9 that a working group from his department is working on a solution to the problem.

“We are investigating the cause of the transmission. It could be from the new detainees whom we put in the prison before they had any symptoms. At that time, we did not have the rapid test kits and we just placed them in quarantine for 14 days.

“The new inmates may have had the disease at its early stages without any symptoms. After they completed their 14-day quarantine, they were then placed in the prison and if they were still infected that could be the cause of transmission,” Savna said.

He said that to prevent the spread of the disease in the prison, the general department had written a request to National Police chief Neth Savoeun to test all suspects who are arrested and sent to court before they ever reach a prison cell.

“If we test them before sending them to the prison, it still poses some risk of transmission, but at a much lower level,” he said.

As of May 8, Preah Sihanouk province had recorded 2,310 Covid-19 cases with 1,266 still undergoing treatment and nine fatalities, according to the provincial administration.

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