Continuing our series of posts regarding the response to the Covid-19 pandemic from South-East Asia countries and the impact on tourists. Here we look at the response in Cambodia. Our first two posts were relating to Vietnam and Thailand.
This article was updated on 3rd August.
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With lower levels of foreign travel, smaller, less densely populated cities and large rural areas, Cambodia may have been less at risk of an outbreak. The young demographic of the country may also be a factor as elder people seem to be more vulnerable to Covid-19. The country also already had widespread use of face-masks to protect from dust and fumes which has also been credited with low transmission rates.
The first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Cambodia was on 27th January, a Chinese man who had arrived from Wuhan. The second case did not occur until 7th March, a Cambodian man who had been in contact with a Japanese man who later tested positive on his return to Japan.
A potential additional risk included Cambodians returning from abroad, mainly Thailand, where they had been working. Some reports state that more than 40,000 returned to the country in a short period of time.
Like Thailand and Vietnam, questions have been asked about the low numbers of cases within Cambodia. Hospital admissions and deaths have not changed unduly which suggests that the figures are reflective of the outbreak within the country. Only around 17,000 tests have been completed and most positive tests have related to foreign travel.
Cambodia has reported 278 cases of which 275 have been recorded as recovered and 0 deaths (2nd October). The latest statistics are available on our COVID-19 and South East Asia page.
The Cambodian Response
Cambodia has made significant investment in its health security system over the last few years which assisted its Covid-19 response. Much of this investment was focused on the detection and response to public health emergencies. This system was put into place following the World Health Organisation (WHO) announcement of the threat of Covid-19 following the outbreak in Wuhan.
Cambodia has a central system which collects data from throughout the country, collating the data to help identify and warn of impending threats. The system is supported by monitoring of communications throughout the country and a national helpline for the public to call for help and report concerns.
Almost 3,000 health workers were trained during January and February before being deployed throughout the country as part of a rapid detection and contact tracing programme linked to concerns raised by the early warning system.
Schools throughout Cambodia were closed on 16th March. On 17th March, following a number of new cases, other public buildings were closed as well as religious gatherings and concerts. More public buildings were slowly added to the list of closures over the next month.
The border with Thailand was closed on 22nd March apart from access at one entry for controlled freight trucks.
From 30th March Cambodia imposed travel restrictions that withdrew visa exemptions and required a visa being granted in advance of travel followed by medical proof of a negative test in the previous 72 hours on arrival and the introduction of a travel insurance requirement.
Khmer New Year celebrations for 13th to 16th April were cancelled and from 10th April travel between provinces and districts outside Phnom Penh were prohibited for a week, apart from key workers and goods.
People contacted through the contact tracing operation are encouraged to self-quarantine and refrain from contact with others and receive daily health monitoring.
Anyone testing positive for Covid-19 in Cambodia is required to quarantine at a government facility for 14 days. Some people quarantined have been lucky and been allocated to a re-purposed hotel. Others have been housed in other facilities where conditions have been reported to be much more basic.
Anyone entering the country who tests negative are required to self-quarantine in your own accommodation for 14 days.
The Current Situation
Many shops, restaurants and bars have now re-opened, as have beaches but nightclubs and gyms and other leisure facilities are still closed.
Flights are operating to and from Cambodia although British nationals are advised not to travel there as the country is not included on the UK government exemption lists. There are additional requirements for visitors to Cambodia at the moment including:
- A visa is required before arrival, you cannot get a visa on entry
- A valid medical certificate from a “competent” health authority stating you do not have Covid-19 dated no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival.
- Have proof of insurance including a minimum of US$50,000 medical cover
- Deposit US$3,000 for Covid-19 service charges which includes a Covid test plus overnight stay at a hotel while waiting for results. If you test negative and have no further issues then you will get any remaining money refunded when you leave.
All travel restrictions within Cambodia have been lifted. Land and Mekong River borders with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam are all still closed. Some hotels and other accommodation are open, many are closed however due to the lack of tourists. When checking into hotels, temperature checks medical / travel declarations are required.
Face coverings should be worn in public areas.
The Cambodian economy has been hit hard with the pandemic effecting the tourist, construction and manufacturing industries which together account for around 40% of paid employment within the country. Workers laid off from factories were promised a government grant of US$70 per month.
In our next article we will look at the response in Malaysia.
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Do you have any experience of how Cambodia or other South-East Asian countries reacted to Covid-19 or where you in country at the time of the outbreak. Let us know your thoughts and experiences.
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