Minister: Still No SARS Cases in Cambodia

Minister of Health Hong Sun Huot, hospital directors and officials from the World Health Or­ganization’s Phnom Penh office reiterated on Friday that the worldwide spread of the deadly SARS virus has not been transmitted to Cambodia.

The minister said health officials and experts are working to prevent the spread of the virus, known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome, to Cambodia.

“We must be careful with this disease,” Hong Sun Huot said at a press conference at the ministry. “We must also be careful of the pas­sengers who arrive from a foreign country and we should not go to the countries that contain the disease.”

As of Friday morning, there have been 79 SARS-related deaths around the world, according to WHO medical officer Dr Sev­erin Von Xylander.

The virus first appeared in China’s Guangdong province in early February and has since been spread by air travelers to South­east Asia and North America.

A Ministry of Health warning states that a high fever, cough, shortness of breath and a sore throat are symptoms of SARS. There is no cure for the flulike illness, although most people can recover with medical care.

“The good news is that in most countries where this disease has spread, it is under control,” Von Xylander said. “We have to be proactive. We have to spread the information about the symptoms and the risks.”

Airline passengers travelling to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap are being screened for symptoms be­fore departing from Hanoi, Hong Kong and Singapore. And officials at both of Cambodia’s international airports are questioning passengers who have just arrived from affected countries, the minister said.

If someone in Cambodia does come down with SARS, that pa­tient will be quarantined at either Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh or the Siem Reap provincial hospital, he said.

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