I Prostrate Myself before Respected Buddhist Monks
“February-20 Community Event” – Third Community Infection
Today, I have an urgent task to announce to people all over the country, especially in Phnom Penh. A while ago, I had a special meeting with officials involved in the fight against COVID-19. Now the situation has reached a new stage where I, and the relevant officials, have clearly concluded that this is the third community outbreak following the November-3 community outbreak during the visit of the Hungarian Foreign Minister. Followed was the community event on November 28, and today I have dubbed this community outbreak the February-20 Community Event. Although this event started on 18-19, but due to the measures taken and this emergency meeting held on 20 February, I decided to name it the February-20 Community Event.
The February-20 Community Event Begins with COVID-19 Test for Oversea Travel
Please note that in just over 10 hours, we have detected 32 large-scale community-based infections, which is unprecedented in our country. Now the Institut Pasteur, as well as the unit at the Public Health Center, are undergoing further testing. There is no concealment. The story starts with someone asking for a COVID-19 test letter to travel abroad. At that time, we found a positive case among those requested for (a certifying letter) from the Ministry of Health of Cambodia. Suspicion started yesterday, and last night, we tested all night and found 28 cases. A moment ago, we have found four additional cases. We do not know yet as to where this evolution goes?
N8 Club is Where It all Started
The departure point, as everybody know, started at the N8 Club. This is a terrible situation for us while we are fighting the COVID-19 imported from the Kingdom of Thailand and the spread from (the Socialist Republic of) Vietnam. On the Cambodian-Thai border, we have done well. On the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, we also have done well. In recent days, 31 brokers have been arrested for smuggling and guiding people (across the border). We will continue to make arrests for anyone involved in the smuggling of illegal immigrants. This is a strict order. In this meeting here, we also have the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, the General Commissioner of the National Police and the relevant departments involved. Along with our efforts to prevent the Cambodian-Thai border, the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, which these days there has not positive COVID-19 cases among more than 10,000 people in quarantines on the Cambodian-Thai border. Unfortunately, the community outbreak in Phnom Penh started with the confirmed number of up to 32 cases already.
In this situation, I would like to issue an order and appeal to our compatriots on the following points:
Firstly, I seek understanding from you people either relating to their businesses or their accommodations on this fact that we are requiring the closures of buildings, of clubs and of some areas, which the Governor of Phnom Penh has done it since 2 am and will continue to control the area. People in the area are likely to be affected, but we have no choice but to close down, including clubs such as the N8 Club, apartment buildings, and some areas where there are any houses but with risk of high levels of infection spread from that area. Must temporarily close. No one allowed entering. If that person is the resident in the area, we allow her/him to enter but not allow her/him to leave. I must clarify this point. If s/he had a house in the confined area, (we may) let her/him in. However, s/he could not come out of the area. This is a measure to take to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the community in Phnom Penh, which I called the February-20 COVID-19 community outbreak event.
Secondly, samples taken from those living in the area for tests. After the test, they must live in quarantine for 14 days to wait for the second test. The number of tests can be so high that even last night we asked the Pasteur Institute as well as the lab of the Public Health Center to work all night. We need to speed up. People living in the closed area should cooperate so that the medical team can come in for a test and after the test, they must have a 14 days quarantine and wait for the second test. I would like to request His Excellency Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng, who is already here, His Excellency and Lok Chumteav, who are in the health sector (consider whether we) should conduct two tests or three tests. In my time of quarantine, I did the test four times, and in the November-28 community outbreak event, we did the test three times. We should therefore figure out whether we needed to carry out test three or four times. This is up to the decision of the Minister of Health.
Thirdly, find out those involved with the N8 club and those related to persons involved with the N8. It is the duty of the authorities, who today we also have the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, and related research departments here to check on would-be involved persons would go where. We must find out where would they have gone and we needed to search those places. Although no cases detected, provinces also need to be careful because previously such infections spread to almost all provinces, for instance the experience of the November-3 event involved up to 10 provinces. The November-28 involved about 20 provinces. Therefore, the provinces must be vigilant and it will lead to coordination with the provinces to find those involved with the N8 and those involved with the sick or those with whom we have to close down their residential areas. Not just the N8 club, but there are two apartments and some other areas. The scale of this search is huge. Therefore, it is the duty of the competent authorities to search for all stakeholders, including the N8 Club, the buildings and areas involved with the COVID-19.
Fourthly, we must quarantine everyone found related. Above, I have already confirmed that those in the closed down residential areas take the test. However, there are still those who might be relating to persons involved directly. Example, a taxi driver, etc., who must also be taking quarantine. I use the word all related stakeholders have to be in quarantines. Our team of doctors must be trying to get samples and send them to quarantines. We must avoid this practice of just getting them to quarantines but not taking their samples. Maybe we need to put in the effort to get samples from every related persons tested. Our difficulty is for the well-being of the people. Those who live in apartments buildings or houses have to quarantine themselves at home in their respective places.
Authorities Responsible for Entry and Exit to Prevent Quarantine Escapes
The authorities are responsible for the entry and exit of these people in quarantines. Please do not let (cases) like what happened a few days ago, when four women got out of the hotel and came to relax outside and then came back, repeat again. Of the four women who left the hotel and returned, two were positive. I believe the other two will be too. This happened because the hotel security helped evacuate the four women. We now have issued a sub-decree related to fines (on those who escape quarantine and those who assist such escapes) in addition to the sub-decree on general quarantines, which we have amended in relation to penalties. For those who are homeless, the city hall must set up a place for them so that they have the right place to quarantine.
Fifthly, I would like to appeal to all stakeholders who are involved with the N8 club and those who have been in contacts with infected ones in the past 14 days to present themselves and bring samples for examination. Please note that this is a call. Along with the search by the authorities, on behalf of the government, I am appealing to those who have been involved with the N8 club or the 32 positive COVID-19 stakeholders to take samples for further examination. In case of negligence, they would contracted with the disease themselves and/or spread it to (people in) other places, bigger and bigger that we can no longer control.
Sixthly, appeal to the general population in Phnom Penh and other areas to increase vigilance and tighten the implementation of three measures to do for protection and three things not to do. The three measures to do for protection is to wear a mask in public places, wash your hands, and keep a safety distance of at least one and a half meters. I do not issue orders to close weddings, schools or other programs if people follow these instructions. I have my conditions. At this time, I call on (people) to implement three protective measures. As washing hands is up to you, because we cannot check on it, the administration can inspect people about wearing masks and keeping social safety distance. I do not prohibit weddings, gatherings on condition of wearing masks and keeping safety distance of 1.5 meters. In this way, we can keep our plans going while preventing infections. I have not yet called for or ordered the closure of schools, both public and private, since the assessment of the would-be impacts of the outbreak suggested that perhaps we had them under control in certain areas. Therefore, it is necessary to take the necessary measures to wear mask in all public places and to maintain safety distance. If that cannot prevent it, I have no choice but to take action, such as banning gatherings and marriages as I had done in the past.
I sincerely hope that our people will participate in the implementation of the three things to do for protections and the three things not to do, which includes going to no places where there are crowds, but not jostling ones. Sometimes the area is so big that the crowds are fine, like the Independence Monument Park. It is very large. Many people would be fine, but they must stay at least 1.5 meters apart. Let the people exercise as usual. They may travel to this place or that place normally, but follow the three things to do for protection and the three precautionary things. The N8 Club, like Zando, is a closed place because it is a restaurant and there is a dance floor. Do not shake hands because the traditional Khmer tradition does not shake hands […]
Stay at Home, Go Out only If Necessary
I still insist that the people of Phnom Penh be careful and please do not leave home if it is not necessary. Now we are in searching mode. Although we have identified the N8 club and some of the living quarters, some areas are closed, but we do not know yet where people from those places might have gone. We are exploring. If you can stay at home, it is good to avoid unforeseeable risks while we could have in fact avoided, but we did not. I beg you to implement these three precautionary measures. Even for next week, I haven’t canceled my programs – one at the Ministry of Interior and another to inaugurate a hotel. We must exercise at least one and a half meters distance apart. A meeting of the Ministry of Interior and the inauguration of the Hyatt-Regency Hotel […]
Rural People Do Not Discriminate Against Phnom Penh People, Chinese
We will continue to look into this issue and if there is any problem, the Ministry of Health will continue to inform the public where the progress has been. I would also like to take this opportunity to call on our people not to discriminate against the people of Phnom Penh. Previously, I learned that due to the events of November-3 and November-28, the people in the countryside are afraid of the people of Phnom Penh, so it means that the people in the countryside apply better health measures, even though they do not wear masks, but they are know how to manage in their community.
This time, because it happened to the Chinese, let us not discriminate against the Chinese like in the early 2020s, when there was discrimination in some countries against the Chinese. Now there are both Chinese and Cambodians in a row. Starting with the four women at the Sokha Hotel, they were all Chinese, one woman first discovered was a Chinese, and 31 others who were positive today were all Chinese. Please do not discriminate on this issue. The infections happened to every nation. For every time we have people coming from Indonesia, about half of them are with infections. Cambodians coming from the United States, almost 20% are imported (cases). Please do not be prejudiced. Firstly, for people of Phnom Penh going to the countryside, please do not discriminate them, and secondly, for the Chinese […]
Hope to Close February-20 Event within a Month
I propose that people take this fear and keep distance. It is unfortunate. However, should we have worked hard and if we do a good job on time, I hope we can close the February-20 event in less than a month because we have managed some situations. It may take a little longer because some people might have already gotten out of the confined areas. Going abroad requires a certificate to enter another country. The person has come forward to ask for a test. The test confirmed s/he is positive. We then followed to the source and there we found it. The Ministry of Health, our authorities are working hard on this and I am asking for this effort to continue […]
Broadcast Live Concerts and Boxing, but Keep Social Distance
In fact, today is Saturday. Normally, on Saturday, some TVs broadcast live concerts and/or boxing. Let me confirm that there is no ban on boxing. TV business is about advertising. Without advertising, how can they make money? They may go on with their scheduled concerts. We tell people to stay at home, while staying at home with nothing to watch on TV would bore them. Well, TV stations continue (broadcasting) boxing (programs) but not allowing live audiences. They can have football event since the stadium is large. Just keep a distance of one and a half meters from each other. Concerts keep on going. If not necessary, do not go anywhere. They call it home sleeping brings self-victory […]
No Crossing to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, 14 Days Quarantines
I hope that our compatriots accept this set of appeals or rules. Authorities everywhere continue to perform their duties countering the spread from Thailand and Vietnam. From the Vietnam side, it seems to be declining as if there is no problem. From the Thai side it is also declining, but our people may come to the New Year. I am sending a message to our people in the Kingdom of Thailand that even though they did come, they would not be able to enjoy the New Year. Why? They will stay in quarantine at the border. If you come long before the New Year, there is no problem, but if you come only for the New Year, you will not be able to do so. You cannot enter inside the country. By the time you return to Thailand, you will have to spend another 14 days quarantine in Thailand. Come to Cambodia for 14 days and return to Thailand for 14 days. On this note, workers in Thailand may stay and enjoy New Year there. That would be good […]
It is now forbidden to enter Thailand. I have confirmed it, whether it is legal or not. Do not allow them to go. On the Thai side, they are controlling the border to prevent anyone from entering Thailand. As for those who return, we have to put them in quarantines. Those who want to cross the border from Cambodia to Thailand, from Cambodia to Vietnam, from Cambodia to Laos, we do not allow. Therefore, all border guards must close border exits. They are not allowed to go out to Vietnam, they are not allowed to go to Thailand, they are not allowed to go to Laos … but if he returns to Cambodia, we will accept because they are our citizens.
COVID-19 Not Over, Impossible to Assess Who is Stronger
I would like to thank all the monks, nuns and compatriots who have listened to the live broadcast at this time. This is very necessary and we do not expect that suddenly the infected number for Cambodia jumped to more than 500 […]. We cannot neglect this disease. We cannot see at all … as long as COVID-19 is not finished, do not brag about one is stronger than other and able to control it. We did managing it last times, and we wanted to be effective until COVID-19 disappears of the world. We cannot be subjective in this. The Kingdom of Thailand immediately rose from over 6,000 to 7,000 to now more than 20,000. Infection in Vietnam suddenly increases the number from just over 1,000 to over 2,000. We have maintained at more than 300, but when the number of infected workers from Thailand adding about 80-90, this number has risen to nearly 400, and now more than 500.
It is unfortunate that that happened despites our efforts but we still believe we can solve this huge challenge. Please do not discriminate against people from Phnom Penh who may visit this place or that place, the Chinese workers, as well as to foreigners who are receiving treatment in Cambodia. We have those coming from Indonesia, India, etc., among whom many are from Indonesia. I thank you and bless all my compatriots the four blessings of the Buddha./.