Authorities in some provinces have restricted entry at their borders by setting up checkpoints and requiring travellers suspected of any exposure to persons or places linked to the February 20 community outbreak of Covid-19 to quarantine for 14 days.
The imposition of these restrictive measures follows government directives requiring that each province be prepared to protect itself by tightening security to prevent community transmission.
Tbong Khmum Provincial Hall’s administration chief Mao Dong told The Post on March 14 that people living in the capital and provinces at high risk for Covid-19 need to be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to enter.
He added that such restrictions were due to the fact that the province currently has no known Covid-19 transmission within the community, which is why the provincial administration must take strict measures to prevent the disease from spreading there.
“We require 14 days quarantine for people who are coming from suspected high-risk areas in one of our designated quarantine locations, where we will also provide food for them. For people coming from areas of low risk, we allow them to enter as normal by just checking their health,” he said.
Dong said although Tbong Khmum has no Covid-19 cases linked to the February 20 community outbreak, there are currently approximately 500 people in quarantine centres there as of March 14. The 500 are people travelling from other provinces and those crossing the border into Cambodia from Vietnam.
Similarly, Siem Reap provincial governor Tea Seiha has also instructed the armed forces and health department’s working group to set up checkpoints at the six main gateways to the province to ensure that people suspected of being infected with Covid-19 are not allowed to enter in order to prevent transmission.
The six main gateways include National Road 6 between Kampong Thom province’s Stoung district and Siem Reap’s Chi Kraeng districts; Siem Reap’s Kralanh district and Banteay Meanchey province’s Preah Netr Preah district; National Road 68 between Oddar Meanchey province’s Chongkal district and Siem Reap’s Srei Snam district; National Road 66 between Oddar Meanchey’s Anlong Veng district and Siem Reap’s Varin district; and National Road 64 between Preah Vihear province’s Kulen district and Siem Reap’s Svay Leu district.
In addition, Seiha said, traffic on the waterways into the province has also been restricted.
“At these checkpoints, we are not fully closed. We just want to keep track of people travelling and record which provinces they are coming from and what their destinations are. If they are coming from risky municipalities or provinces such as Phnom Penh, Prey Veng and Preah Sihanouk then we need to put them in quarantine and test them,” he said.
The February 20 community transmission has now spread to the capital and nine provinces including Kandal, Prey Veng, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong and Svay Rieng.
There are now a total of 751 patients whose cases are linked to the February 20 community outbreak. Phnom Penh has recorded the most cases, followed by Preah Sihanouk, Kandal and Prey Veng.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak told The Post on March 14 that the measures taken by each province were at their discretion, depending on the situation there and the challenges in their areas.
He said those provinces can put in place measures such as closing their borders, temporarily suspending traffic or requiring people to quarantine in order to enter depending on their situation.
“Officials at the local level have a clearer idea than anyone else of what they require. Prey Veng provincial authorities, for example, know where they face the highest risk of transmission as they know where the people flow from.
“So, this province has already closed some areas and markets that have been exposed to the outbreak,” he said.
According to Sopheak, a group of nearly 100 brokers involved with smuggling migrant workers illegally from Thailand and Vietnam to evade quarantine from February 13 to 23 have now been sent to court to face criminal charges.