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Cambodia

Controversy over claims of Cambodia helping Chinese evade quarantine

Cambodia has rejected notions that the Chinese receive “special treatment” upon arrival

UCA News reporter, Phnom Penh

UCA News reporter, Phnom Penh

Updated: October 29, 2020 04:40 AM GMT
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Controversy over claims of Cambodia helping Chinese evade quarantine

A woman sets up a scarecrow in front of her home in Cambodia's Kampong Cham province on October 11, 2020, as superstitious residents in the region set up the sentries known as "Ting Mong" in Khmer to ward off the Covid-19 coronavirus during the pandemic. (Photo: Tang Chhin/ AFP)

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A video that appears to show a state registered bus allowing just arrived passengers to evade quarantine after passing through Phnom Penh airport has gone viral in Cambodia and raised fears of preferential treatment for Chinese visitors.

Initially posted online under the name of “Yin Seng” and then picked up by local media, the video shows passengers getting off the bus with their luggage, aided by transport staff, outside the airport.

Passengers then stand by the bus – some without face masks – while the videographer bitterly complains to bus employees and passengers, the Khmer Times reported.

“You are not only destroying my efforts ... you are destroying the efforts of the national leaders and the nation as a whole for a small benefit. You sell your conscience; destroy the hope and peace of the people of Cambodia, what more hope?”

The poster alleges that the passengers are Chinese.

“The Ministry of Health must have a proper interpretation, the deportation of Chinese guests who had just gotten off the plane and had to be tested for Covid-19 by health officials,” the Khmer Times quoted the poster as saying after a translation.

According to a post on the social network Telegram, the report also said that O Vandine, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, was aware of the video.

The license plate of the bus was clearly shown in the video.

Two months ago, UCA News reported Cambodia’s Health Ministry was concerned about six Chinese nationals who tested positive for Covid-19 but were unaccounted for after their embassy in Phnom Penh questioned the results.

After the initial tests in July, following their arrival in Phnom Penh, a Chinese embassy official urged the ministry not to include the results in its daily reports, which are made public through government-backed news outlets, according to medical and diplomatic sources.

They said the six were then retested, and all the results turned out negative, which one medical practitioner described “as a result that would be almost impossible to obtain.”

Government protocols want all arrivals to self-quarantine for 14 days.

If one passenger tests positive on arrival, all passengers must spend their next two weeks under a government-controlled quarantine.

“Unlike all other known positive cases, the results for these Chinese were never reported publicly by the Health Ministry or in the local press,” one source said.

By far, Beijing is Cambodia’s largest benefactor, and Phnom Penh has rejected claims that Chinese people arriving here receive special treatment, enabling them to dodge quarantines.

Cambodia has emerged relatively unscathed from the pandemic with just 283 confirmed Covid-19 cases. Almost all arrived from overseas on flights or a cruise ship. None have died, and 280 have recovered, a result doctors attributed to the early closure of its borders.

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