CMAC’s demining missions set to continue despite Covid infections

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CMAC director-general Heng Ratana visits CMAC officers on Tuesday. HENG RATANA VIA FACEBOOK

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) said unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance actions will continue as usual, despite some officials having tested positive for Covid-19 recently.

CMAC director-general Heng Ratana said on July 22 that nine CMAC officials had tested positive for Covid-19 – two in Phnom Penh, three in Battambang and four in Preah Vihear.

He added that CMAC was no different from other frontline forces whose daily work places personnel at high risk of contracting Covid-19. But a team has been assigned to effectively combat the disease.

Since the start of the pandemic, CMAC had planned in advance to prevent Covid-19 and had implemented procedures to prevent the spread of the disease to personnel. The strategy also stressed the commitment to maintain normal operations even if certain forces were affected by the disease.

“Those strategies include separating operational forces by geographical location, taking turns in carrying out operations, reducing the mobility of forces, and using electronic equipment for inspections. If any member suspects that they have contracted Covid, they have to take a rapid test, and all forces must live separately,” he said.

Although the strategy is difficult to implement, team members have to learn to live and carry out operations under the threat of Covid-19 and follow health prevention measures.

“Despite getting infected with Covid-19, the health condition of the officials is not bad. Six of them have recovered while three others are still under treatment,” he said and thanked Prime Minister Hun Sen for providing vaccines to CMAC forces, which is a priority group.

According to Ratana, all infected CMAC officials would still receive their monthly allowance. They also have received extra food items for daily necessities from the head of government and the King.

Meanwhile, Senior Minister Ly Thuch visited CMAC in Battambang province on July 22, bringing along food assistance from Prime Minister Hun Sen for the two CMAC Covid-19 patients, along with $200 each. Financial and food assistance were also provided by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Thuch appreciated all CMAC personnel for their contribution to developing the country through landmine clearance work. They had promoted the livelihoods of people who live in rural areas.

He said Cambodia is experiencing difficult times as Covid-19 is spreading and affecting people’s health and livelihoods.

Lou McGrath Obe, Chief Executive Officer of Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation, also pledged food and financial assistance to two CMAC officials and three Mines Advisory Group officials who tested positive for Covid-19.