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The woman will be banned from entering Cambodia for life after she hid in a cargo truck in a bid to get from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh.
PHNOM PENH--A Chinese woman found to have violated travel restrictions will be deported and banned from entering Cambodia after finishing her quarantine period, the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration announced on March 9.
Taking to Facebook, provincial authorities said that the ban would be permanent after the Chinese woman defied the recently introduced ban on travel between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
Authorities claimed that the women had attempted to escape from Preah Sihanouk Province on the night of March 5 in order to travel to Phnom Penh. She initially took a taxi before switching to a cargo truck, apparently aware that only goods transportation vehicles are allowed in and out of the province.
The plan nearly worked, until the cargo truck she was hiding in was pulled over for inspection by authorities at Kampong Seila District, some 125 kilometers from Phnom Penh. The Chinese woman was immediately found and returned to the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration and placed into quarantine.
It is unclear why the Chinese woman was attempting to reach the capital during Cambodia’s worst COVID-19 outbreak to date, but the provincial authorities’ statement said that they are preparing to take legal action against the woman.
As a raft of tough new rules are set to be imposed in relation to COVID-19 restrictions, Kheang Phearum—a spokesperson for the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration—said that authorities are seeking to punish her not for escaping from quarantine, but for violating the travel ban set out by Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this month.
“Anyone who respects Cambodian laws, we welcome,” said Phearum. “There is no reason to keep those who disobey our laws.”
He added that the driver of the cargo truck and the taxi driver involved in the Chinese woman’s escape attempt will face legal action.
According to the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration, both drivers face fines that will range from 10 million riel—roughly $2,500—to 50 million riel, almost $12,500, in accordance with the sub-decree signed by Hun Sen in late February.
While Phnom Penh has become the epicenter of the latest community outbreak, Preah Sihanouk Province has also been hit hard by the surge of COVID-19 cases and as of March 9, there have been 549 people infected in relation to the Feb. 20 outbreak.
Believed to have begun with Chinese women escaping their quarantine—an incident that has seen one security guard charged—the third community outbreak has spread rapidly across the country, with connected cases spreading beyond Phnom Penh and into Preah Sihanouk, Kandal, Svay Rieng, Koh Kong, Prey Veng, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham provinces.
So far Cambodia has recorded 1,060 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. No deaths have officially been linked to the virus and 538 people who have contracted the virus have since been discharged from hospital.