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Ministry of Health Gives 3 Days for NagaWorld Protesters to Take Covid-19 Test

PHNOM PENH: The Ministry of Health has announced the discovery of a positive Covid-19 case in a pregnant, former NagaWorld employee who had been engaging in the demonstration in front of the Australian Embassy. The Ministry has now given protestors three days to provide their samples for Covid-19 testing, with the threat of legal action.

In a press release issued on Friday, the Ministry of Health stated that a female protester went for a prenatal check-up on 28 January 2022 and was found to be positive for Covid-19. The woman’s sample was taken to be tested at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge where it was confirmed to be the Omicron variant. To prevent the spread of this new variant, the Ministry is requiring all protesters to go and get tested and provide their samples at designated locations in Koh Pich, otherwise known as Diamond Island, within three days’ notice.

The Ministry of Health has warned that those "Individuals who do not implement health and administrative measures shall be punished in accordance with the law on ‘measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other serious and dangerous infectious diseases’ in force."

Article 10 of the Law on Measures to Prevent the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Deadly and Infectious Diseases states a fine of one million to five million riel will be imposed on those who do not comply with state measures, a six month to three year long prison sentence, as well as a fine of two to 10 million riel if this non-compliance causes a transmission of Covid-19 to others, and a two to five year prison sentence, plus a fine of five to 20 million riel, if these actions cause serious harm to public health.

Responding to the announcement of the Ministry of Health, NagaWorld protester, Chim Ratha, said that the protesters have not yet decided on whether to go and get a Covid-19 test, as they have to discuss together as a group first, because the protestors do not trust the Ministry's measures and believe that this could be just an excuse by the authorities to disperse the protesters.

Chim Ratha was quoted saying, “I do not dare to say yes or no, but… we (the strikers) have to talk in groups first because we no longer have our representatives, so we need to discuss this as a group clearly first. But obviously, we see that our gathering at the strike site for the past 48 to 49 days has prompted the authority of the Ministry of Labor to come as a group to break our advocacy demands, so we do not have confidence in the call for the Covid-19 test. We do not have confidence in whether the test will be transparent or fair for us as strikers. We do not trust it."

The protestor added that the pregnant woman who was found positive with the Omicron variant had not been involved in the strike for a long time.

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