Luke Hunt, Phnom Penh
Updated: February 25, 2021 07:46 AM GMT
Police stand guard as they lock down a bridge to Diamond Island as motorists wait behind a barrier in Phnom Penh on Feb. 20 after authorities found 32 local cases of Covid-19. (Photo: AFP)
A Chinese media proprietor has had his license revoked and will be deported from Cambodia for spreading “fake news” about Covid-19 vaccinations after the number of confirmed cases rose sharply amid a strict lockdown of the capital.
The Interior Ministry said Chinese citizen Shen Kaidon, owner of Angkor Today Media, would be expelled for spreading fake news online that said “Cambodia sells China-aided Covid-19 vaccines at a high price.” He will also be banned from re-entering Cambodia.
All Covid-19 vaccines are free in Cambodia.
The deportation order followed an announcement this week that foreigners who flee quarantine and fail to cooperate with the government to curb Covid-19 would be expelled and banned from re-entering the country.
That order followed what is now being referred to as the “February 20 Community Event” when at least two Chinese women allegedly bribed security guards and escaped quarantine.
The women then went to several nightclubs and visited people in their apartments, sparking Cambodia’s third outbreak of the disease before being apprehended.
Cambodia had earned widespread praise for its handling of the coronavirus. The number of confirmed cases stood at just 484 with 470 recoveries and no deaths prior to the latest outbreak.
However, within five days the number of confirmed cases had jumped to 697, with 477 recoveries, and more than 1,500 people have been quarantined.
The Health Ministry said 58 patients involved in the February 20 Community Event had tested positive overnight, adding that most were Cambodian, Chinese and Vietnamese nationals aged between 16 months and 46 years old.
In response to the outbreak, schools, gyms and other businesses have closed. Events including weddings have been canceled and access in and out of the capital has been curtailed.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has said people should avoid Phnom Penh where possible and only those on essential business should travel into the capital.
But he also said efforts must be made to ensure cross-border trade continues.
“We must strengthen quarantine controls along the borders to avoid importing the disease from abroad, but the transport of goods to neighboring countries should still continue as normal,” Hun Sen said.
“I ask all provinces on the borders to accept responsibility and take action so that the people may still continue to do business with neighboring countries with the support of our authorities. We cannot allow Covid to damage our economy further.”
In a separate announcement, the Foreign Ministry has told foreign embassies and the United Nations resident coordinator in Phnom Penh that all foreigners will receive free Covid-19 vaccinations.
“All foreign nationals who are currently residing and working in Cambodia can get vaccinated against Covid-19 at no charge in accordance with Cambodian Covid-19 vaccination plans,” the circular said.