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Cambodia Has First Community Outbreak of COVID-19


Cambodia, which until recently had reported just over 300 cases of the virus and no community outbreaks, but rather all imported on arriving passengers into the country is now suffering from its first community outbreak of the virus.

The General Director of Prisons, Chem Savuth, has been reported to have tested positive for COVID-19, presumably contracted from his wife who was tested positive on Saturday. Four other family members later tested positive. This has raised official cases of coronavirus to 323 in the country and has led to the closure of several establishments.

Where Has Been Closed in Phnom Penh?

Notable closures include Phnom Penh Hotel, where an infected individual had used the pool and gym. Officially its closure is so that the government can track those that may have been affected.

The Chak Angre branch of American Intercontinental School has been ordered to suspend operations temporarily as the children of affected families were students at the school

The most significant closure, though, is that of AEON Mall. Ly Sovann, Director of Communicable Disease Control Department and a Spokesperson at the Ministry of Health, this evening confirmed the Royal Government’s decision to close down Aeon Mall I temporarily.

Of all of the closures, this is the most worrisome. A lady entered the mall and tested positive. Sadly no one knows how she contracted the virus.

Not only that, but she is Cambodia’s first documented local transmission with no history of international travel. The woman had been living on 60-meter street in Phnom Penh and had previously travelled to Siem Reap city. Officials are now trying to track and trace who she may have been in contact with.

Will This Mean a Lockdown in Cambodia?

While no national lockdown or lockdown of any cities in Cambodia has been instituted yet, the government unveiled more measures today to help curb transmission of the virus, specifically targeting the capital Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Prime-Minister Hun Sen today announced that gatherings of above 20 people were to be banned, as well as wedding parties. In gatherings of less than 20 people, masks and social distancing were also to be applied. It was announced that these measures would last at least 15 days and were on the World Health Organization’s advice.

People are also advised to limit travel outside their residences for the next 15 days unless it is for necessities.

The measures are to be implemented in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Phnom Penh has seen a rise in confirmed cases, and Siem Reap has suspected cases with test results pending.

Cinemas, museums and theatres have all closed, and while no announcement has been made regarding bars and restaurants, it is likely an announcement will be made soon.

All public schools across the country have been instructed to end the 2019-2020 academic year on Nov. 30 and private schools have been ordered to move to online learning for at least the next two weeks.

As of now the streets of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are unduly quieter, but far from the levels seen in the past.

How things move forward will depend greatly on the next 15 days.

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