Health Ministry warns avian influenza and food, alcohol poisoning in Chinese New Year

Cambodian-Chinese place various sizes of incense sticks into an urn at a temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Kandal on February 16, 2018. Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP

PHNOM PENH – The Health Ministry has warned of avian influenza transmission and food and alcohol poisoning as many people gather for Chinese New Year, pointing out the possible resurgence of the coronavirus.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng said that every year people are seen making offerings to their ancestors, with circulation of poultry creating a risk of transmitting the avian virus.

Big family reunions and dining gatherings are common and could cause food or alcohol poisoning, he said, appealing for caution.

Cambodia was living with the new normality of a few COVID-19 cases and there was still a need to be on high alert, the minister said.

“I would like to remind people to continue being vigilant and conscious in protecting themselves from contracting the coronavirus, avian influenza and other diseases as well as preventing food poisoning,” Bunheng said.

The minister urged people to keep practicing health measures and social distancing as well as be vaccinated to prevent severe public health disasters.

He said cooking must be done with high hygienic standards. People should clean themselves properly, especially when in contact with poultry,.

He also urged people to avoid going to poultry farms or be exposed to poultry directly if not necessary.

“If you suspect you have caught avian influenza and​ have a history of direct contact with sick and dead birds during the 14 days before the onset of symptoms, please call 115 and go to hospital as soon as possible,” Bunheng said.

He voiced concern for the elderly and children who are vulnerable to diseases, advising good care for them.

Local authorities must closely monitor poultry farms or markets to ensure proper health measures to prevent the spread of avian influenza in the community.

Bunheng also instructed local authorities to inspect alcohol production locations to ensure production is in accordance with standards and without mixing methanol into alcohol.

“Don’t buy alcohol with no clear source of origin and avoid mixing white alcohol with any beverages which can cause the loss of life,” he warned.

The COVID-19 health measures, such as wearing masks and the  three dos and three don’ts must always be carried out. The ministry encouraged people to follow the recommendations.

As of Jan. 17, three new cases of COVID-19 were detected, bringing the total case to 138,668. So far, the disease has claimed 3,056 lives.

Of the 16 million population, 95.32 percent had been vaccinated against the coronavirus as of Jan. 17.

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