Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Schools closed, travel restricted as two coronavirus cases detected in Phnom Penh

Activity of a School in Phnom Penh. Supplied

All public and private schools have been temporarily closed in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap until further notice and citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.S. have been banned from entering the country amid coronavirus fears.

Two new cases of the disease were confirmed on Friday, according to a Health Ministry press release, the first positive tests in Phnom Penh. The country’s five previous cases were detected in Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Kampong Cham province.

The two new Phnom Penh cases were of a 49-year-old Canadian and a 33-year-old Belgian national, the ministry said.

Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Saturday that the 49-year-old Canadian man was a staff member at the Canadian International School and had returned from a visit to Thailand on March 9.

Activity of a School in Phnom Penh. Supplied

He contacted doctors on Wednesday after feeling unwell, and tested positive for coronavirus on Friday. He is staying at home and being treated by a medical team from the ministry, she said.

The Canadian International School said on its website that the staff member had not been within any of the school’s campuses since his return from Thailand.

On Saturday, the Education Ministry ordered the temporary closure of schools in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap city.

“The ministry has decided to temporarily suspend all private and public schools in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap city starting from the day of this announcement day until the day the ministry announces they can open again,” said ministry spokesman Dy Kamboly on Saturday.

The length of the suspension will depend on the coronavirus situation, he said.

The Health and Foreign Affairs ministries also announced a ban on nationals from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.S. from entering Cambodia for 30 days starting on March 17. Officials were told to stop granting visas to citizens of those countries.

According to the World Health Organization’s latest update, hundreds of new coronavirus cases have been confirmed within the past day in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Iran and the U.S., bringing the total number of cases to more than 130,000 worldwide. Almost 5,000 people have now died from the disease.