After nearly two years of restricting international arrivals as part of Covid-19 prevention measures, Cambodia yesterday become the first country in Southeast Asia to drop the requirements for both pre-travel PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test and on-arrival rapid antigen test for fully vaccinated travellers into the Kingdom.

Cambodia's continuous efforts to strike back

Previously, in order to enter Cambodia, visitors had to show a PCR negative test certificate, issued no more than 72 hours before departure. It was also compulsory for them to take a rapid test when they arrive in one of the international airports or cross a land or maritime border into the country.

However, the Ministry of Health yesterday issued a new guideline which abolished all these preventive requirements for fully vaccinated international travellers from all countries.

In addition, the ministry also announced that the Visa on Arrival (VOA) scheme has been reinstated for all travellers who enter Cambodia by land, water and air.

However, it urged travellers to do a rapid test on their own before coming to Cambodia.

“Those who have not been fully vaccinated shall go into quarantine for 14 days in the centres designated by the government,” the ministry said in the announcement.

These new regulations were confirmed yesterday by the Ministry of Tourism, which requested all those involved in the tourism industry to implement.

Here is what you need to know about traveling to Cambodia during Covid

More investors - more businesses - no more risks

Prime Minister Hun Sen, while presiding over the inauguration of “SOS Children’s Village” in Prey Veng, said yesterday the government was dropping compulsory testing for inbound travellers to boost investment, business and tourism.

He noted that this would also enable the government to save on costs related to medical equipment and tools, in particular testing kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The premier added that doing so is also fundamental for Cambodia to move forward with the goal of living with the coronavirus.

Mr Hun Sen noted that although the new Covid-19 mutated variants like the Omicron are highly transmissible and now spreading widely in the country, the mortality rate is low.

As of yesterday, Cambodia has reported over 13,000 Omicron cases, both local and imported, but only 32 people have been killed by the new variant.

Ministry of Health spokesman Hok Kim Cheng said yesterday that the new directive, which was designed in accordance with the recommendation of the Prime Minister, has more benefits than consequences.

“It doesn’t pose risks as we eased the restrictions at the international borders because all accepted travellers are fully vaccinated. Even if they are infected or contract the virus, it doesn’t put their health at danger,” Kim Cheng added.

Cambodia so far has been very successful in its vaccination drive, with 92.31 percent of its 16 million population (based on the 2019 census) having received at least one Covid-19 jab.

“People in the country are also receiving the booster shot, so it doesn’t create grave concerns over the easing of restrictions. We have to learn to live with the virus,” Kim Cheng said.

He said that travellers who suspect that they may have contracted the virus can just do a self-test like the ministry has recommended.

“The new measure will help in the economic recovery of many sectors, especially tourism, which have been affected by the travel restriction,” he said.

Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak said yesterday that it was such great news for travellers and businesses in the travel and tourism sectors.

“With the new implementation, we expect that the country will gain more tourists and investors, which will effectively assist in economic recovery,” he said. “However, the ministry is also encouraging travellers, both international and local, to strictly comply with preventive measures such as the 3 Dos and 3 Don’ts.”

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation spokesman Sin Sereyvutha said yesterday that although the new rule came into effect from yesterday onwards, the authorities will need at least one week to implement it completely.

“We need time to inform the airlines. We need at least a week before the new rule comes into action,” he said.

He noted that the lifting of restrictions will also resolve travellers’ complaints about “wasting time to do the test” upon arrival.

Dr Quach Mengly, a well-known Cambodian public health expert, said yesterday that doing away with the pre-travel test and on-arrival rapid test is a step in the right direction.

He said it is time for the government to step forward and get the country “out of its comfort zone” which has been in effect for two years.

“Omicron is mild and it is not dangerous for fully vaccinated people. Therefore, easing the restriction is the right way,” he said. “Economic recovery is the priority right now, so I support the government’s new rule for travelling as other countries are planning to implement this too. If each individual complies strictly with the health measures, the outbreak will not be back.”

Hassle-free entry: The inevitable trend

While Cambodia has become the first country in Southeast Asia to completely lift its international travellers’ restriction, several other countries in the region are also heading in a similar direction.

According to Bangkok Post, Thailand’s Public Health Ministry will propose the easing of certain pre-travel requirements during a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) today.

“Under the proposed entry rules, travellers under the Test & Go scheme would no longer be required to show negative RT-PCR test results up to 72 hours before departure to the kingdom,” the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit said on Wednesday, adding that travellers only need to do a RT-PCR test upon arrival and an antigen self-test on Day 5.

The Indonesian government on Monday opened a Special Travel Visa for international visitors to have quarantine-free entry into Bali through the Immigration Checkpoint (TPI) at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Malaysia also announced last week that it will reopen its borders quarantine-free to fully vaccinated international travellers starting April 1.

According to Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, when the policy comes into effect, fully vaccinated visitors and Malaysian returnees from all around the world will no longer be required to undergo quarantine upon arrival in the country. However, it will still remain compulsory for them to undergo a RT-PCR test two days before departure and a rapid test (RTK) upon arrival.

Source: khmertimeskh.com

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