The editor of Chinese-language news website Angkor Today will be deported from Cambodia after publishing a story claiming that coronavirus vaccines were being sold improperly out of Calmette hospital, officials said, as the tally for cases related to connected to the February 20 outbreak rose to 194 cases.
Shen Kaidong was arrested at his office in Siem Reap on Wednesday and will be deported and banned from returning to Cambodia for disseminating fake news over a story headlined:“Cambodia Sells Covid-19 Vaccine Donated by China,” officials told CamboJA.
“In a letter, Samdech [Kralahom Interior Minister Sar Kheng] declared to deport him within a week … and after he is deported, he is banned from returning,” ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said
Angkor Today’s license would be revoked, with owner Ung Kongkea to be dealt with by the Information Ministry, he said.
Angkor Today was licensed by the Information Ministry in 2015.
The Health Ministry – which took control of half of 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine that donated by China – rebuked the website’s claims that vaccines were being bootlegged out of Calmette hospital, where the first round of injections began this month.
“I reject the information disseminated about vaccinations being sold in Calmette hospital and condemn all people who poison society by creating this fake news,” spokeswoman Or Vandine posted to the Health Ministry’s official Facebook page, calling for Angkor Today to issue a correction.
Information Ministry Spokesman Meas Sophorn confirmed that Ankgor Today’s license had been revoked.
In a statement to its Facebook page on Wednesday, the ministry said that the Chinese Embassy had warned Chinese citizens to be on high alert for fraudsters purporting to sell Covid-19 vaccines in Cambodia.
The ministry said that the Chinese Embassy had recently received reports of Chinese citizens receiving sales pitches for the vaccine, at $120 per dose, via text message.
The Health Ministry said in a statement Thursday that it had found 58 new cases related to the February 20 outbreak, which has caused parts of Phnom Penh to be shut down as the government does contact tracing related to four Chinese women who were allowed by security guards at Sokha Hotel to leave mandatory quarantine.
Schools in Phnom Penh and Kandal province closed indefinitely on Monday as the government deals with what it says is Cambodia’s biggest challenge of the pandemic so far, with the total tally reaching 697 cases overnight, with no deaths.
Aside from the February 20 outbreak, Cambodia registered seven other new cases on Thursday: a Cambodian man returning from Africa and six Chinese citizens aged between 26 and 30 living in Sihanoukville, the health ministry said.
More than 10,000 people have been vaccinated since the first shipment of the Sinopharm vaccine arrived, the Health Ministry said Wednesday, with the Foreign Affairs Ministry announcing this week that foreigners residing in Cambodia could be vaccinated for free.
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Center for Development and Peace, said that the government should increase restrictions on Chinese citizens arriving in Cambodia and called for foreign embassies to be responsible for vaccinating foreign nationals living in Cambodia.
“It’s important that the government prioritizes vaccinating out Cambodian people first,” he said.