Following a request by Prime Minister Hun Sen, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng issued a set of standard operating procedures (SOP) for treating Covid-19 patients who are asymptomatic or who only have minor illness from the virus at their homes rather than in hospitals.
The 15-page procedural document released on April 7 provides comprehensive details regarding treatment at home for these patients, who constitute the majority of Covid-19 cases.
The document states that out of Cambodia’s over 3,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, roughly 80 per cent are asymptomatic or less-severe in nature.
Patients with minor illnesses can be treated at home by health officials and medical volunteers who have undergone training on how to safely carry out such work, according to the document.
“Treating Covid-19 patients separately at homes is an important measure to ease the burden of the pandemic on [Cambodia’s] medical system. Hospitals will then be in a better position to admit and treat the minority of Covid-19 patients whose illnesses progress in severity to an emergency state,” the document notes.
The document states that based on the practical experience of the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital it was estimated that five per cent of the Covid-19 patients who had been admitted to the hospital are in the intensive care unit, with another 15 per cent in the emergency care unit a step below that.
The remaining 80 per cent only need to be monitored and have their condition periodically checked – a level of care that can be provided at home, the document explains.
The procedures outlined define asymptomatic and less-severe patients as those with symptoms similar to a cold – like a runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains and a temperature under 38C.
Those patients with cases ruled less-severe should also have an oxygen concentration of 95 per cent or better, a normal breathing rate of 18-20 times per minute for adults and the document recommends that hospitalisations continue for pregnant women and the elderly regardless of these immediate indicators.
The health ministry’s procedures for hospitals in the document state that if 70 to 80 per cent of hospital beds in the capital or any individual province are occupied, then the implementation of home treatment must begin in that particular region and thereafter they should reserve 20 to 30 per cent of hospital beds in order to admit patients whose illness cannot be treated at home.
On April 8, the health ministry announced they had found 113 new cases of Covid-19 that can be traced back to the February 20 outbreak, with 103 of those in Phnom Penh. Four of the cases are Chinese nationals, the rest are Cambodians.
Two more patients have died from Covid-19. They were both men – ages 42 and 68 – who were undergoing treatment at hospitals in Phnom Penh.
As of April 8, Cambodia has recorded 3,028 Covid-19 patients of whom 2,496 are linked to the February 20 outbreak. A total of 1,915 patients have recovered, while 1,085 patients remain in treatment. 24 patients have died.