Cambodia, like the rest of the world, has been affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. While scientists around the globe search for a cure, governments of various countries have been taking steps to stop the spread of the virus.
Measures taken against the coronavirus include quarantine facilities, medical testing at ports of entry and at health centers, closure of schools and places of work, and travel restrictions.
Restrictions on Visas and Traveling to Cambodia
Like many countries across the world, Cambodia has implemented several measures that affect international travel, all in order to lower the risk of infection for both Cambodian and foreign nationals.
The Cambodian authorities assure that these restrictions and limitations are temporary and will be regularly reviewed and updated as the global situation evolves.
On the 30th of March 2020, the government announced the suspension of all visa exemption policies. This means that until the epidemic is resolved, visa-free travel to Cambodia is not allowed. The issuance of new eVisas (electronic visas), visas on arrival, and tourists visas is also temporarily suspended.
As long as these measures are in place, those wishing to visit Cambodia have to obtain a visa from a Cambodian embassy or consulate abroad.
On top of the usual visa requirements for the country, foreigners must also provide a medical certificate no older than 72 hours issued by the competent authorities of the country of origin. This must certify that the traveler has not tested positive for COVID-19. Moreover, visitors must have purchased medical insurance coverage for the entirety of their trip for a minimum of USD $50,000.
The medical insurance and certificate requirements do not apply to holders of diplomatic visas (visas A and B) for Cambodia.
Upon arrival, all international travelers will go through mandatory health screening processes. Officers carrying out the health checks will make a decision on allowing the traveler to enter Cambodia.
Passengers arriving from above may be subject to mandatory quarantine, isolation, or other measures for the prevention of contagion as prescribed by the Cambodian Health Minister.
Authorities in most countries are advising caution when traveling. The advice is to only travel abroad if absolutely necessary.
However, according to the figures, Cambodia is one of the countries least affected by the outbreak of COVID-19.
Foreign nationals who still plan to travel to Cambodia should know these things to arrive prepared.
Travel Between Cambodia and China
While many countries have stopped or limited travel to China early on in the pandemic, Cambodia is one of the few who have maintained normal travel regulations with the world’s third-largest state until March.
Cambodia has a close relationship with China. Prime Minister Hun Sen has refused to restrict flights and tourist arrivals from his close ally until it has become necessary to enforce the measures outlined above.
The Prime Minister even offered to go to Wuhan in China’s Hubei province—the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak and talk to Cambodian citizens there to calm their fears.
What Is the Risk of Coronavirus in Cambodia?
Officially, there have been very few cases of coronavirus in Cambodia. That is why the country is considered at very low risk. The vast majority of patients have made a full recovery.
However, locals and visitors alike should exercise caution and protect themselves from infection by following the official sanitary guidelines, which include:
- Wash hands often and avoid touching the face
- Keep physical distance while in public spaces
- Self-isolate and contact the relevant authorities should symptoms appear
Cambodia’s Response to the MS Westerdam
Cambodia allowed the cruise ship MS Westerdam to dock in Sihanoukville after it had been turned away by 5 other countries amid fears that passengers had been infected after docking in Hong Kong.
This move was praised by the World Health Organization (WHO), who called it an “example of international solidarity”.
Initially, only 20 passengers who reported feeling unwell were tested. All others had their temperature taken and had the option of filling out a form certifying that they were well if they wanted to disembark.
One of these passengers tested positive after flying to Malaysia. Cambodian authorities then quarantined all remaining passengers on the Westerdam.