PHNOM PENH: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday (Nov 30) banned wedding parties and gatherings of more than 20 people, as authorities moved quickly to try to thwart a COVID-19 outbreak after announcing rare cases of community transmission.
Fifteen people have so far tested positive from 3,332 tested since Sunday, the health ministry said, all linked to a 56-year-old woman who had travelled to the country's two biggest cities since Nov 20.
Cambodia is among the countries least impacted by the coronavirus, with just 323 cases so far and no deaths reported. Most of those cases were imported.
It was unclear how the woman, whose husband works at the Interior Ministry in charge of prisons, had become infected. Her husband and several family members also tested positive.
Three Cabinet ministers are undergoing self-quarantine. About 3,300 people in seven provinces who were found to have had contact with the family are having themselves tested.
In a voice recording posted on his Facebook page, Hun Sen urged the public not to panic and said the ban on gatherings was a response to recommendations of experts and the World Health Organization.
"Suspend all gatherings of many people for 15 days, starting from today," Hun Sen said.
"And if there is a marriage, please apologise and suspend the marriage for 15 days," he said.
"If we don't do this, it will be late for us ... so please implement these urgently."
Cambodia's Education Ministry had earlier ordered all state schools to close until the start of the next school year in January after a local outbreak of the coronavirus.
Public schools will remain closed until Jan 11, the start of the next school year, while private schools must close for two weeks, he said.
Students in private schools will be permitted to study online.
Also on Monday, the Culture and Fine Arts Ministry announced the closure of all theatres and museums and the prohibition of public concerts for the next two weeks.