- December 20, 2019 4:31 AM
- December 9, 2019 12:55 PM
- October 6, 2019 3:29 AM
Until the “February 20 Incident” and even though Cambodia did experience two other community transmissions in 2020, the country has gone through the COVID-19 pandemic as if in a bubble.
Since February 20, this bubble has cracked with a significant increase of cases in Phnom Penh, Kandal Province and Sihanoukville.
This said, at this time, there is no exponential surge as those seen in other countries and, according to official figures, a total number of cases—953 as of March 6 since the start of the pandemic—rather modest with, most importantly, no death.
However, vigilance should be exercised more than ever since the number of “clusters” that have been detected is not negligeable and that, for the first time, a garment factory has been affected.
The series of measures put in place by the authorities—tracing contaminated people and their contacts for screening and quarantining, temporary shutdown of facilities involved and schools, restriction on trips between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville—are now well coordinated and the vast majority of the population accepts this despite the inconvenience.
To complete the administrative measures designed to provide a framework for the government’s strategy against the pandemic, a draft law under discussion in a special session at the National Assembly would set a stronger legal framework for the authorities to take action in the case of individuals who, by not following the ministry’s instructions, contribute in one way or the other to the spread of the pandemic.
The “February 20 Incident” took place as the first vaccines were arriving in Cambodia with a program being put in place for progressive vaccination following the arrival of vaccine doses coming from several suppliers. The objective of the Ministry of Health is to vaccinate at least 80 percent of the population and an application has just been launched to inform every person of his or her vaccination day.
Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville have now been declared priorities in this vaccination campaign.
The faster people will be vaccinated while maintaining the now “classic” measures during the pandemic, the better it will be.
Having gone through months of the pandemic and becoming affected in terms of health as the long-awaited vaccines are available or within reach would be cruelly ironic.
As Khmer New Year is fast approaching, everyone is hoping for a time of celebrations and relief, free of any constraint. Will this be the case or, like last year, are we going to be denied festivities?
Unfortunately, uncertainty remains.