Covid regulation violators to be deported

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Foreigners wait for Covid-19 test at the National Institute of Public Health laboratory in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Heng Chivoan

Prime Minister Hun Sen has granted request to expel and ban any foreigners for re-entry if they do not comply with health regulations for quarantine, evade medical treatment or refuse to provide information to the authorities.

These measures are in addition to those stipulated in Sub-Decree No 27 regarding quarantine requirements approved by the government on February 18.

The decision came after Dy Vichea, head of the Sub-Committee on Research and Monitoring of Suspected Covid-19 Cases, expressed concerns about a lack of cooperation among some foreigners amid the outbreak of community transmission.

In his letter to the prime minister, Vichea said: “Difficulties encountered by the committee’s research team include individuals who had contact with a Covid-19 patient refusing to cooperate with us, people refusing to give interviews to us and those who have escaped from quarantine.

“And there have been business owners who have refused to cooperate in contact tracing efforts or in following up with us on the status of persons infected with Covid-19. All of these actions slow down and limit the effectiveness of our operations.”

Vichea requested introduction and enforcement of additional legal measures against individuals and businesses or locations that do not cooperate with required Covid-19 measures.

Non-cooperative foreigners, he suggested, shall be deported and banned from re-entry while non-compliant businesses shall have their licences revoked and be closed.

Meanwhile, Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has vowed stricter enforcement of measures to prevent and control Covid-19 in the wake of the February 20 Community Event.

He advised all event hosts, business owners and other stakeholders to strictly implement social distancing and personal distancing safety measures.

“Those who are hosting events will have their events shut down and business owners will have their businesses closed – and will be punished according to the law – if they continue to refuse to follow the Ministry of Health guidelines,” he said.

According to Chapter 5 of the February 18 sub-decree, those who evade quarantine or leave their place of quarantine without permission will be fined between one million and five million riel ($250 and $1,250).

For those who initiate, lead, guide, incite, persuade or intentionally facilitate a person’s efforts to escape a quarantine facility or leave self-quarantine will be fined between 10 million and 50 million riel and be subject to punishment under criminal statutes as well.

According to the health ministry’s press release issued on February 23, three cases linked to the February 20 Community Event have now been determined to be the new variants of Covid-19.

One of the three persons detected with the new variants resided in Tonle Bassac commune in the capital’s Chamkarmon district. The two other patients had visited the N8 nightclub, where the outbreak of the country’s third community transmission is believed to have begun.

At a press conference on February 23, health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that although there had been no reported cases of death due to Covid-19 in Cambodia, the risks associated with contracting the virus remained high.

“The current situation with community transmission is more complicated than the November 28 Community Event, especially because this involves the transmission of a new variant of Covid-19 which is more [dangerous] and spreads faster,” she said.

According to the ministry, the number of Covid-19 patients linked to the February 20 Community Event has now reached 99. Of the number, 23 tested positive on February 22.

The latest cases bring the Kingdom’s Covid-19 tally to 593, with 118 receiving ongoing treatment.

Of the 475 who have recovered, three were first detected with the new Covid-19 variant. The three were passengers inbound from abroad and were not linked to the February 20 Community Event.