The Ministry of Health is sending a stark reminder for citizens to remain vigilant and avoid Covid-19 outbreaks, bird flu virus outbreaks, and food and alcohol poisoning for the upcoming Chinese New Year.
Despite it not being an official public holiday, Cambodians still celebrate Chinese New Year annually. This year’s celebrations fall on Sunday, January 22 to Tuesday, January 24, marking the start of the year of the Rabbit.
As part of tradition, Cambodians commonly purchase poultry, which can pose a risk of transmitting bird flu to animals and humans on a large scale during Chinese New Year, according to Ministry of Health instructions ‘Prevention of transmission of Covid-19 virus, avian influenza and prevention of improperly prepared food poisoning and alcohol poisoning during ancestral preparation and the upcoming Khmer New Year’.
The advice says to cook meat, poultry, eggs and seafood well and when buying ready-made food at markets or on the street, make sure it is hygienic and safe to eat.
“On the other hand, various diseases and food or alcohol poisoning are also observed in some areas in the country. We all need to increase vigilance. Each individual must work hard to maintain good health and avoid food poisoning in all circumstances,” the Ministry said.
The Ministry also warned of the transmission of Covid-19, especially in light of recent variants, such as XBB or XBB.1.5. It urged all citizens to be more careful on self-protection and follow the three protective measures of wearing masks, washing hands, and social-distancing. In addition, it urged residents to continue with the Covid vaccination program.
Additional advice includes avoiding direct contact with livestock at farms and poultry markets, and steer clear of manure, poultry and other animals.
Avoid crowds when buying food, buy meat or poultry and employ social distancing measures in crowded places.
Store raw and cooked foods separately and keep food at a safe temperature, colder than 5C and hotter than 60C. Cook one meal at a time and ensure left-overs are not kept for a long period of time, which can cause bloating, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and other illnesses.
If a bird flu virus is suspected, with common symptoms including a fever of more than 38.5C, coughing and shortness of breath, and a history of contact with sick or dead poultry 14 days before the onset of symptoms, residents are advised to call 115 and attend the nearest hospital.
Local authorities are responsible for inspecting brewing sites and winemakers, and winemakers must ensure the correct technical procedures are followed, without the use of methanol in the mix.