Cambodia: Parts of Phnom Penh in lockdown as Covid-19 cases soar; 477 new cases confirmed

Garment workers consult health officials before getting vaccinated against Covid-19 in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district. - Phnom Penh Post/ANN

Phnom Penh, April 10 (Phnom Penh Post/ANN): Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on Friday (April 9) placed parts of three districts in two-week lockdown as Covid-19 cases in the areas soar to an alarming level. The lockdown will last through April 23.

Sreng said on Saturday (April 10) the decision came after 631 workers from Din Han Enterprise, which has over 2,600 workers, tested Covid-19 on April 9 alone, just hours after the Ministry of Health reported 576 new cases linked to the February 20 community outbreak and the country's 25th Covid-19 fatality.

“This is the toughest decision the Phnom Peng administration has made. We know that lockdown affects the feeling and living our citizens, ” Sreng said.

The lockdown is enforced for the whole commune of Stung Meanchey I and Stung Meanchey II in Meanchey district; an entire village in Sen Sok district's Ou Baek K'am commune; and six villages in two communes of Por Senchey district. These are areas where most of the Covid-19 positive workers are concentrated.

Sreng said only person from each family in the areas can go out to buy food, medicines and other necessities under the monitoring of the authorities.

Meanwhile, Cambodia registered 477 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of infections in the kingdom to 4,081, the country's Ministry of Health (MoH) said in a statement Saturday.

Of the new cases, 454 were found in capital Phnom Penh, six in Preah Sihanouk province, four each in Kandal, Svay Rieng and Takeo provinces, three in Prey Veng province, and one each in Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces, the statement said.

The South-East Asian nation has also logged two new deaths, bringing the number of fatalities in the country to 26, it said, adding that there are 1,970 active cases in the country.

In a special speech live broadcast on the National Television of Cambodia (TVK), Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said most of the new cases were detected in Phnom Penh among people involved in two cluster outbreaks at the popular Orussey Market and at garment factory Din Han Enterprise.

He said during the first year of the pandemic in 2020, Cambodia registered just over 500 Covid-19 cases, but since the Feb. 20 community transmission event to date, the number of infected cases had jumped to more than 4,000.

"This is a very bad situation for Cambodia. So far, the transmission of Covid-19 has not slowed down yet; instead, it has accelerated although strict responsive measures have been in place," Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen said Covid-designated hospitals in Phnom Penh were overwhelmed with patients after a sharp rise in new cases during the last two days.

"Our hospitals are overcrowded with Covid-19 patients. Only in two days, more than 1,000 people got infected, and this number exceeds our hospitals' capacity," he said.

The prime minister said the government has been turning some more buildings into Covid-19 hospitals and has allowed patients with mild symptoms to receive treatment in isolation at home.

For home treatment, the patients must have a separate bedroom and bathroom in order to avoid spreading the virus to other family members, he said, adding that local medical practitioners will closely monitor their health status and provide them medications based on symptoms.

According to the MoH, at least 17 Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms have started receiving treatment at their houses since Friday.

Meanwhile, Hun Sen called on the courts across the kingdom to prosecute those who flouted quarantine rules severely.

Under the country's law, quarantine violators will face a maximum fine of US$1,250, but if their violation leads to the spread of the virus to others, they will be punishable by six months to three years in prison with a fine of US$2,500.

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