6 Doctors Go to Poipet to Check for SARS

Six doctors were deployed to the Poipet border checkpoint last week to monitor the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome in the Ministry of Health’s latest effort to keep Cambodia SARS-free, a health official said Sunday.

Border checkpoint doctors were advised by the Health Ministry last week to survey the travel and health histories of tourists and to measure the temperature of all tourists passing through the land checkpoint, said Chhun Vannarith, Banteay Mean­chey Health Department director.

The medical team is equipped with ear thermometers and health questionnaires to gauge whether foreign tourists are ex­hibiting signs of the respiratory disease that has killed at least 448 people and sickened 6,300 others. Symptoms include a high fever and respiratory discomfort.

Travelers with a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius are required to get a chest X-ray at the provincial hospital, Chhun Vannarith said, adding that no SARS-related X-rays have been taken yet.

Chhun Vannarith said a staff of six doctors was not enough to examine all of the 200 to 500 tourists entering Cambodia each day and that more thermometers were needed.

Since thousands of Thais and Cambodians enter the country every day, officials have opted not to examine the health of Thais crossing the border to gamble or Cambodians traveling to and from Lonng Koeur market in Thailand, Chhun Vannarith said. The health of Thais destined for Angkor Wat, Cambodians carrying passports and all other foreign tourists will be scrutinized.

A Civil Aviation Ministry representative will join an international meeting of airport authorities in Manila on May 16 to address the threat of SARS, said Civil Aviation Undersecretary of State Kao Sophal on Sunday.

The one-day meeting is part of the common quarantine procedures agreed upon by Asean leaders at meeting in Bangkok last week.

At the meeting Prime Minister Hun Sen pledged $100,000 to an Asian fund to study and prevent the spread of SARS.

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