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Man tests positive for Covid-19 upon return from Malaysia

Cambodian migrant workers who had been employed in Malaysia arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport on June 16. Panha Chhorpoan

A 21-year-old migrant worker has tested positive for Covid-19 after returning to Cambodia from Malaysia on June 16, according to the Health Ministry, marking the 129th recorded case of the virus in the country since January 28.

The man was among a group of 115 workers on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH 762 from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Phnom Penh International Airport on the evening of June 16. The migrant laborers had been stranded in Malaysia for months amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

A Health Ministry statement on June 18 said that the man, from Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district, had tested positive for Covid-19 on June 17. According to the statement, he is now receiving medical treatment at Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, which has been handling all Covid-19 patients in Cambodia.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine confirmed the diagnosis.

“He is part of the group that flew from Malaysia,” she said. “The results of the other passengers are negative and we will manage 14-day quarantine centers in their respective provinces,” Vandine added, without naming the provinces or saying how many people among the 212 on board the flight had departed Phnom Penh.

Vandine added that a Health Ministry working group has organized a 14-day quarantine for all passengers onboard the June 16 flight. They can choose to isolate at a Phnom Penh quarantine center or at a designated quarantine center in their respective province, she said. Provincial quarantine stations have been set up at referral hospitals, as well as some hotels and guesthouses, Vandine added.

She called on the public to be vigilant to prevent the spread of the virus.

The group of migrant workers who returned home this week had been stranded without employment and unable to afford food or rent in Malaysia since April 7, after Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a ban on all travel from the country. The ban was instituted after several cases of Covid-19 were found in Cambodia among people who had attended a religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur. 

Tuloh Saith, a 38-year-old Cambodian construction worker, said from the quarantine center in Phnom Penh’s Choam Chao commune that he was relieved that his test result came back negative, adding that he will now head to a quarantine center in his home province of Tboung Khmum.

“The result showed I was negative for Covid-19 and I am now preparing luggage to leave for my 14-day quarantine at Tboung Khmum province,” he said. “I am happy that my result is negative and I will follow the ministry’s instruction for a 14-day quarantine.”

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