Cambodia places capital, neighboring city under 14-day lockdown to curb COVID-19

Thursday, 2021-04-15 11:04:43
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Buddhists go to the Ounalom Pagoda during the first day of the three-day Khmer New Year holiday amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 14, 2021. The Ministry of Health has called on people to celebrate the New Year at home as Cambodia has seen a sharp rise in new cases. (Photo: Xinhua)
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Cambodia decided to place its Phnom Penh capital city and neighboring Ta Khmau city under a 14-day lockdown in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said in a decision on Wednesday night.

Ta Khmau is a city in Kandal province, about 10 kilometers south of Phnom Penh.

The lockdown would take effect from 00:01 a.m. on April 15 to 28, Hun Sen said.

He said that during the lockdown, all individuals are prohibited from leaving home if unnecessary, with an exception for those traveling to work or to do businesses and having a certifying letter from their companies or local authorities.

People still can go out to buy food or other necessities, but only two persons in a house will be allowed with not more than three times a week, he said, adding that they must go to the nearest market in their locations and bring along with their identification cards.

The prime minister added that people also can leave home for health reasons or emergency situation, but must follow health safety measures, especially wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.

"The lockdown is aimed at ensuring the effectiveness in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Phnom Penh Municipality and Ta Khmau city, and is to prevent the disease from spreading to other areas," Hun Sen said.

Hours before the decision was announced, the prime minister's audio message to his cabinet members about the lockdown was leaked, prompting people to flock to markets to buy food and other essentials.

Ministry of Health secretary of state and spokeswoman Or Vandine called on people to keep calm and refrain from flocking to buy food as it could increase the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

"You can get infected with COVID-19 at any time when the place is too crowded or where there is no physical distancing of at least 1.5 meters from each other, and if people have not worn face masks and have not washed hands frequently," she said.

"Please trust preventive measures taken by the government, and the government will not impose a full lockdown that will prevent people from buying food and other necessities," she added.

The Southeast Asian nation has seen a rising number of new COVID-19 cases every day since the third community transmission was declared on Feb. 20.

The kingdom on Wednesday logged 178 new cases, mostly in Phnom Penh, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 4,874 so far with 36 deaths, the Ministry of Health said adding that there are currently 2,544 active cases in the country.

Cambodia began an anti-COVID-19 inoculation drive on Feb 10. As of Tuesday, some 1.17 million out of the country's 16 million population had been vaccinated against the virus, showed a government report.

Xinhua