COVID-19 is coming to Cambodia


The escalation of the Covid-19 epidemic in India, Thailand and, more recently, Taiwan has attracted great international attention. The increase in cases and deaths in Cambodia, which appears to have a strong record regarding COVID-19 until recently, is overlooked in this report.

As of January 2021, one year after reporting its first case, Cambodia has reported no deaths and only 400 cases, resulting in varying degrees of eulogy. However, its initial success also came into question. Some Experts suggest The country has been reducing the number of COVID-19 cases. They also point to other factors that contributed to the country’s performance on the Coronavirus, such as the swift and effective measures taken by its larger and wealthier neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam, which were among the best performers against the Coronavirus in the region. Additionally, Cambodia’s performance indirectly benefited from its performance Relatively young population And the essence International aid Have received. These factors have given Cambodia an edge in the fight against the Coronavirus, raising doubts about whether its government is really responsible for this initial success.

Then, in late February, a new wave of community remittances struck the country that had yet to be contained. Cambodia finally registered The first official death From the epidemic on March 11, the total number of cases reached 1163. As of May 18Cambodia has recorded 159 deaths and 23,282 cases. The state is weak The health care system Unable to keep up with the exponential growth in COVID-19 cases, hospitals are turning people away.

Cambodia’s relations with its neighbors are tested in these growing numbers. The 12 cases were from the February 2021 cluster It is found to be Variant B.1.1.7 of the virus, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, with high rates of transmission and deaths. A virologist in Thailand suggested that the new alternative that is spreading in Thailand at an alarming rate may have come from migrant workers crossing from Cambodia. Emerging “The Blame Game“It could further complicate the already difficult historically difficult relationship between Cambodia and Thailand. Moreover, Vietnam He also expressed concerns about cross-border transfers.

Rampant corruption in Cambodia has contributed to the increase in the number of COVID-19. The February 2021 group that generated this new wave has been linked to four Chinese citizens who have been arrested CCTV Capture Bribing the security guards and escaping from the quarantine. Growth of this “Alien diseaseIt risks fueling hostility against China among ordinary Cambodians, even though the long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen is a staunch ally of Beijing.

Cambodia’s governance capabilities are being tested. This spike in COVID-19 cases unfortunately coincided with the country’s traditional New Year celebrations (April 13-15). The government commissioned inter-provincial travel ban And the cancellation of New Year celebrations in major cities to limit the spread of society. Until now hundreds Of Cambodians across the country have been arrested violating the travel ban and placed in mandatory quarantine.

Authorities in Cambodia tried to monitor closures and travel bans through A. Strict COVID-19 Law Issued in March, which sets prison terms of up to three years for violating quarantine orders and up to 20 years for any organized group intentionally spread the virus. Rights groups like Human Rights Watch have it warned That this law could be abused to suppress dissent in Cambodia, where the government has a proven record of suppressing dissent. Such harsh laws have been abused elsewhere, perhaps the most famous one is in the neighborhood MyanmarThe military authorities, who seized power in a coup in February, accused ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi of violating COVID-19 restrictions. Last month, Cambodia’s Ministry of Post and Communications and Ministry of Health implemented a “Stop COVID-19” QR code system that lacks privacy protection for personal data. This was raised Privacy concerns It could put government critics and activists at greater risk.

In mid-April, the government also began implementing last-minute lockdowns in Phnom Penh and Tajmao, the capital of Kandal Province. The implementation and follow-up of this measure was alarming. After an audio message from Prime Minister Hun Sen was leaked and posted on social media on April 13, indicating that there would be a citywide lockdown in the capital, locals in dangerously large crowds flocked to grocery stores and markets. The Prime Minister’s Facebook page finally brings out the Official government order The next day, an immediate shutdown was imposed. Suddenly the announcement and the lack of clarity of its message created chaos. Cambodians are seeking more guidance on guidance Flooded A group of messages created by Phnom Penh City Hall on the messaging app Telegram, with many questions and complaints left unanswered.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian government continued to modernize lockdown procedures, and createThree-color systemThat declared some areas as “red zones” in which people are prevented from leaving their homes under any circumstances, and markets and food vendors have been closed. cane To impose a lockdown, and forcing violators to return to their homes – with Videos The highlight of this harsh tactic. On May 7, the government Lifted Full lockdown measures in Phnom Penh and replace them with unspecified restrictions, despite health experts’ warnings of a possible surge in the number of troops. News reports came of crowds leaving Phnom Penh and Tajmau for the provinces.

Although Hun Sen assured Phnom Penh residents that “brothers and sisters will not face starvation” due to the countless restrictions due to COVID-19, reports have surfaced of the exposure of the city’s economically vulnerable residents. starving. The government reportedly did not effectively distribute food and aid, and was slow to adequately compensate factory workers, farmers, and food vendors who were forced to do so. stop working. Society The survey From international NGOs found that people in the red areas felt tremendous stress due to lack of food, loss of income, and mental health challenges. The Cambodian Farmers Community Alliance It was able to distribute roughly $ 40 in cash assistance to individuals in need, while calling on the authorities to better facilitate humanitarian support. Cambodian Labor and Human Rights Group Center They also expressed their concerns about the conditions of workers stranded in the red zones, and contacted the authorities for more clarity and support.

The government denies these concerns. On April 30th, government spokesman, Faye Sivan, Answered To claim that Cambodians are hungry, saying, “They are just making up news. This is not true.” On May 4, the government Prohibited Journalists from live broadcasts from the capital’s red areas and from reporting misleading conclusions, while the Kandal County authorities have ordered Farmers Not to publish “negative images” of crops that spoil their fields due to market closures during closures.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian government appears to be moving as quickly as possible to mitigate the spread of the disease through a vaccination program. As of May 18, Cambodia Administered 3.4 million doses of vaccine (out of a total population of approximately 17 million). However, only 7.78% of the population has been fully vaccinated, and the government is also facing the vaccine DoubtEspecially with regard to the effectiveness and safety of Chinese vaccines. This prompted the government to implement it at first Mandatory vaccination As for working Cambodians, they have threatened their employment if they previously refused a jab Reverse the path After desperate workers trapped in red zones protested faster vaccinations as a result of these threats.

Cambodia’s numbers appear to be declining somewhat, but the COVID-19 surge has not been contained in any way. As implementation of and compliance with COVID-19 measures continues to be inconsistent, the country’s poor are suffering disproportionately while concerns mount about infringements of fundamental rights and freedoms. The potential good news is that after shrinking 3.1% in 2020, it is now the Asian Development Bank Expectation The Cambodian economy will recover by 4% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022. To achieve this level of economic growth, however, the country will have to mobilize resources appropriately and equitably against COVID-19, implement consistent and transparent guidelines, and step up to the vaccination campaign. .

Cambodia is not alone in experiencing a surge in the epidemic, and it will need to be vigilant to reduce transmission as neighboring countries scramble to control their cases. Unlike the first year of COVID-19, when external factors appeared to be contributing to its decline, Cambodia will have to work harder to save itself.

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