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Fallout rages on: Feb 20 event scourge continues five months on in Cambodia

Tith Kongnov / Khmer Times Thu, July 22, 2021

The February 20 Community Event struck the Kingdom five months ago, upending all the efforts the government had taken to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of yesterday, Cambodia has now logged a total of 69,608 cases of which 63,084 are due to the infamous event.

It all started with selfish acts of four Chinese women who arrived via a private jet from Dubai, two of whom were subsequently found have been infected with Covid-19.

Instead of following quarantine protocols put in place to avert transmission of the virus, they bribed their way out of the five-star hotel they had been isolated in and went around the capital for pre-arranged liaisons.

Two women then went on a partying spree through numerous nightclubs and visited friends.  After they were apprehended, they tested positive for the disease.

As a result, scores of people become exposed and through them the virus just kept spreading.

Efforts to keep in place measures such as social distancing were blatantly disregarded by several unconscientious individuals, leading to the unrelenting spread of the deadly disease in the Kingdom.

Apart from the nearly 70,000 infections, 1,168 have so far died from Covid-19.

A// The Ministry of Health yesterday reported 812 new cases of which 279 were imported and the rest also linked to the February 20 event.

However, the good news is there were 740 new recoveries, bringing the total number in the Kingdom to 61,779.

Following the event, Prime Minister Hun Sen immediately ordered the closure of some nightclubs, condominiums and streets around Koh Pich, after a spike of 32 cases of Covid-19 was traced back to the four Chinese women who allegedly paid security guards for permission to leave their quarantine hotel in Phnom Penh.

The government issued a sub-decree to punish those who evade quarantine, with fines raised from a maximum of $250 to $1,250. Anyone who helps them can be fined from $2,500 to $12,500.

World Health Organization representative to Cambodia Dr Li Ailan told Khmer Times yesterday that because of the February 20 event, Cambodia’s efforts to control the virus spread had become more challenging than last year.

She said the virus transmission has not been suppressed. That is why it is so important for everyone to continue to take actions today to prevent a worsening situation tomorrow.

Dr Ailan said that there are also five possible factors behind the surge of infections in Cambodia this year: (1) new variants with higher transmissibility; (2) invisible community transmission – more than 25% of cases have no or very mild symptoms and the virus can spread from people to people silently; (3) “pandemic fatigue”- people are getting tired and we see public complacency; (4) low or non-compliance with preventive public health and social measures; and (5) over-optimistic reliance on having been vaccinated.

“No single measure alone is a magic solution to suppress transmission and minimise social and economic disruption. We all hope for the best for people in Cambodia to get out of the pandemic as soon as possible. But we need to anticipate a much longer fight against Covid-19 especially in the face of new variants. Together, we should not let our guard down,” Dr Ailan said.

In another development, Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng yesterday urged all 14 district authorities, relevant departments and officers of the armed forces to pay the utmost attention in facilitating home treatment so that people have more confidence in doctors and authorities.

Sreng said that home treatment is a good choice and more and more people are volunteering to participate in this option.

He warned those undergoing home treatment not to sneak outside and infect others. He said if they do so, they will be severely punished in accordance with the laws, without exception.

Ngy Mean Heng, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department, said on Tuesday that so far more than 1,500 Covid-19 patients have been allowed to be treated at home.

The Oddar Meanchey Provincial Administration on Tuesday identified 165 new cases of Covid-19, through rapid testing and also reported nine recoveries.

As of Tuesday, Oddar Meanchey province has detected a total of 3,153 cases of Covid-19 which of 20, 553 had recovered. There have been six deaths.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Administration yesterday reported 97 new cases of Covid-19 through rapid testing and also 157 recoveries.

The provincial administration called on people who were in direct or indirect contact with the patients to get tested and quarantine themselves for 14 days.

In case of any abnormal health problems, such as a fever over 37 °C, cough, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, sputum or shortness of breath to immediately contact the emergency response team of the Provincial Department of Health to undergo testing.

Cambodia News Home

SOURCE – Khmer Times, Cambodia Thu, July 22, 2021

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