COVID-19 NEW VARIANT: PHNOM PENH, Cambodia- New COVID-19 headache: More virulent UK strain found in three air passengers

 File photo of passenger arriving at the Phnom Penh International Airport and waiting for COVID-19 testing by a health official. KT/Pann Rachana

Here is the GLOBAL status as of Tuesday, 7am, February 16, 2021


The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 218 countries and territories around the world and 2 international conveyances.


COVID-19 infection crosses 109.6 million globally as deaths cross are at 2.42 million.


Covid-19 vaccines administered (115 million) had now overtaken the number of infections worldwide (104 million), more than three-quarters of the jabs had been handed out in just 10 wealthy countries.
The update-2.16.2021 Sick Earth Plague Day 447
 (1 Year, 2 Months, 16 Days)
Coronavirus Covid-19
Cases Globally: 109,651,353: 
Deaths: 2,417,651;
Recovered: 84,166,222.

 Here is the CAMBODIA’S status as of Tuesday, 7am, February 16, 2021



There has been +0 new positive case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Cambodia.  The tally is at 479. No deaths. Total recovered at 469.


Authorities are on the alert after a more virulent form of COVID-19 has been detected in the Kingdom.


The government reported yesterday that the strain which originated from the UK was detected in three foreigners who flew into Cambodia from India and China.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Health yesterday, the new variant was identified by Institut Pasteur du Cambodge as 20I/501Y.V1, VOC 202012/01, and B.1.1.7, which now has emerged with a large number of mutations.


The UK variant reportedly spreads more rapidly and is associated with increased risk of death.

The strains of the deadly virus were detected in samples extracted from a 28-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, both Indians, who flew into Cambodia on February 3 from India via Singapore and a 23-year-old Chinese woman who flew from China to Cambodia, passing through South Korea, on February 7.

The three patients are now receiving treatment at the National Center for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control.

“Medical scientists are finding along with WHO greater fatality, infecting speed and severity of the variant of which cases have been found in the country, the region and the entire world,” the ministry said in its statement.

“Therefore, we would like to ask the people to always be cautious and never ignore the possibility of infections of this new variant in Cambodian community,” it added


In January 2021, it was reported that scientists from UK showed evidence that suggests the UK variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared with other variants. However, more studies are needed to confirm this finding.


According to the WHO, the new variant has been detected in over 80 countries around the world. Apart from the UK variant, the world has so far found two other variants of COVID-19, including the South African variant (20H/501Y.V2 or B.1.351), which emerged independently of B.1.1.7, and the Brazilian variant (P.1).

Also yesterday, the Bangkok Post reported that the South African variant, which is believed to be resistant to vaccines, was last month detected for the first time in Thailand, which shares the border with Cambodia, on a Thai returnee from Tanzania, according to director-general of the Department of Disease Control, Opas Karnkawinpong.

Although current vaccines were designed around earlier versions of coronavirus, scientists believe they should still work against the new ones, although perhaps not quite as well.

Early results reportedly suggest the Pfizer vaccine protects against the new variants, but is slightly less effective while there is still not much information about the effectiveness of other forms of vaccines.

File photo of migrant workers trying to cross the Thai border into Cambodia with the help of a broker. CEN

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the Ministry of Health and all relevant officials to strengthen measures to ensure migrant workers are not able to avoid going into quarantine when they return to the Kingdom.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said they should more strictly implement the “Sub-Decree on Health Measures to Prevent and Respond to the International Outbreak of Diseases”.

He also instructed the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice to review the level of penalties in the sub-decree, as it is too low for some people to fear.

The Ministry of Health yesterday instructed the capital-provincial governors to strictly implement legal measures against those who do not comply with the “Sub-Decree on Health Measures to Prevent and Respond to the International Outbreak of Diseases”.

The Prime Minister’s instruction comes after some Cambodian migrant workers from Thailand have tried to evade doing quarantine, which poses a serious risk of COVID-19 transmission into the community.

He also expressed concern over the dangers returnee migrants face while crossing the border illegally, giving the example of one of them who was injured after stepping on a landmine.

Mr Hun Sen called for stricter border checks and enforcement to prevent such incidents from happening.

“If we still allow migrant workers to cross illegally to avoid doing quarantine and to escape border patrol forces, there will be more serious incidents such as yesterday (Sunday) evening when one of our Cambodians crossed the border and stepped on a landmine in Banteay Meanchey province,” he said.

“Therefore, I would like to request the Ministry of Health, as well as local officials, to implement Article 8 of the Sub-Decree in relation to the transitional fines for those who evade quarantine,” he said. “I will request to Minister of Health to discuss with the Minister of Justice if they can make amendments to Article 8, to increase the fine, because such a small penalty can make some people who have a lot of money to be unafraid of the law.”

He also ordered all law enforcement officials to crack down on brokers who bring people across the border to avoid being quarantined in the centres.

“I would like to order all law enforcement officials to take strict action against the ringleaders who bringt people across the border to escape quarantine,” he added.

Mr Hun Sen said 35,665 migrant workers had returned from Thailand into Cambodia and 11,857 workers are in quarantine centres at seven provinces near the Cambodia-Thai border. Among the migrant workers who returned, a total of 89 tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health yesterday instructed the capital and provincial governors to strictly implement legal measures against those who do not comply with the sub-decree which was promulgated on September 17, 2015.

According to the Article 8 of the Sub-Decree all passengers and drivers of any transport vehicle who evade or do not cooperate with quarantine officials in implementing the health measures or fail to comply with the procedures set out in the sub-decree will be subject to a fine of between $50 and $250 depending on the severity of the crime and be required to carry out the health measures.

The Ministry of Health also said that in case the passenger or operator of the transport vehicle refuses to comply with the quarantine requirement, the official shall cooperate with the relevant authorities to bar entry into the Kingdom.

The Ministry of Labour yesterday also issued the same warning on fines for Cambodian workers who evade quarantine.

On Monday night, a Cambodian worker stepped on a landmine and injured his leg after crossing the border from Thailand into Cambodia through the forest in Poipet City, Banteay Meanchey province, to escape quarantine.

The Banteay Meanchey provincial authorities identified him as Yoeun Rarn, a 32 year-old resident of Prey Kuk village, Phsar Kandal commune, Poipet city. He illegally crossed the border from Thailand into Cambodia in O’Leang, Prey Kob village, Poipet City.

Authorities said the area where the worker crossed the border is a dangerous area with landmines and unexploded ordnance left over from the war.


Taing Rinith and Tith Kongnov / Khmer Times
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