Current Situation of COVID-19 in Cambodia

Current Situation of COVID-19 in Cambodia

Lecturer, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
Royal University of Agriculture, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The COVID-19 pandemic has a great impact on human health and global economy. This was also felt in Cambodia.

On September 10, 2021, the total confirmed cases in Cambodia from 2020 until now are 98,842 people, 658 new cases but 160 are imported, 93,411 are the active cases, 3,403 cases are at hospital and some in ICU. A total of 2,028 death cases, with 9 new cases of deaths were reported on September 10, 2021.

From my perspective, the biggest problem my country faced during this pandemic is that people are not so worried about the disease right now because they can go out or go to work normally. Having said that, they have to wear facial mask and spray alcohol to sterilize their hands frequently. The Royal Cambodia Government takes countermeasures to control the pandemic such as: people must be fully vaccinated, 14 days quarantine for those who travel abroad and the treatment of COVID-19 at home. However, for those who are seriously infected with this disease, it is absolutely crucial to be hospitalized, including treatment in ICU as well. On top of this, conforming to the government’s instructions is very important, which includes 3 protections: wearing facial mask, hand-washing, keeping social distance, and 3 contraindications: avoiding crowded area, when staying in a room it should be well and naturally ventilated as opposed to enclosed room, closing of entertainment places until receiving new instructions are given, such as avoiding alcohol consumption in restaurants and entertainment places like cinema and karaoke. These countermeasures seem to be extremely effective to control the spread of the disease.

The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) has provided some financial support to certain people in Phnom Penh and Takhmao City by disbursing 40-60 USD per family. Additionally, they were given food like rice, noodles and cooking ingredients during the lockdown. Turning to public services, the government also paid for electricity (about 5.00-15.00 USD) and water supply (about 2.20-7.50USD) for those who have lost their family members due to the disease and people in the poverty category.

Lockdown was not only imposed in the city but also in rural areas. With regards to the punishment for those who break the law: 250-750 USD fine will be meted out to those flouted the lockdown, 500-2,500 USD fine and a jail time of 6 months- 3 years will be given to those who intentionally spread Covid 19 to others, and 500-5,000 USD fine and a jail time sentence of 2-5 years will be given to those who intentionally spread Covid 19 to the public and endangering the masses.

The duration of the lockdown is usually 14 days. If the situation has not changed for the better, the government may extend the lockdown for 7 more days. As a result of the lockdown, some people felt very unhappy with the arrangement because they could not go to work or run their businesses, which led to in negative consequences, in particular the creation of the economic crisis. On the other hand, some people, who are in the medium and high incomes category are elated with the lockdown because they think it is the best way to stop the virus spreading to their residential areas. Last April, there were some frenzied buying of household goods at the Doemkor market and other small wet markets in Phnom Penh, before the lockdown. The most popular household goods that people rushed to buy are foods (meat especially pork, fish, cooking ingredients and vegetable) and first aid and sterilization products.

When people do not wear the facial mask at shopping centers or they do not keep social distance, they could be punished. As an example, when they are caught for the first time, they will be reprimanded and given warning by health officers or the relevant authorities. However, if they are caught for the second time, they will be given a 50-250 USD fine for not wearing mask and a 250-2,500 USD fine for not keeping social distance.

There are two types of diagnostic tests, namely, Covid-19 rapid antigen test and PCR test, which are being used in Cambodia. Covid-19 rapid antigen test is used as the primary screening test and those found positive were then subjected to PCR test, which is carried out by the Pasteur Institute of Cambodia for confirmation of the diagnosis. Cambodian people diagnosed in this way need not pay for those tests. Simultaneously, it is not necessary to do the antibody test [spokesman of ministry of health said so]. According to the Ministry of Health, Delta is the new variant virus that is widespread in the country nowadays.

Recently, children at 12-18 of age have started to be vaccinated after the vaccination of those over 18 years of age has been completed. There is an array of vaccines being used in Cambodia’s population, namely Sinopharm, AstraZeneca (Covishield), AstraZeneca (Manufactured in Japan), AstraZeneca (Manufactured in UK), Sinovac (for 12-18 & ≥18years old), and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). As of September 10, 2021, the number of adults, who have been vaccinated is about 97.23 %, while the number of children at the age of 12 to 18 is approximately 86,77 % have been inoculated, respectively. Please be informed that it is not necessary to pay for the vaccination.

There is no Cambodian traditional medicine that is known to be able to treat COVID-19. Recently, however, some Chinese traditional medicines are being approved by the RGC to be used against COVID-19. Apart from this, there is considerable controversy over the use of Ivermectin as it has been used as an anti-parasitic drug in animals only. However, in some cases, the use of this medicine is ongoing to treat COVID-19 patients.

With regards to a sense of community bond, NGOs and NPO as well as other related parties have donated charities to local resident, including alcohol, facial mask, money, and food. In public schools, students were able to have access to virtual class by using Zoom or teachers would provide them with homework and the students will send those documents back to their teacher on a regular basis.

In conclusion, my personal feeling is that there are not many good positive effects that COVID-19 has brought to our lives but I can say that it makes me gain a deeper understanding of technology and feel more confident in terms of solving problems. Having said that, with reference to the negative aspects, COVID-19 gave me much anxiety and stress because we could not go out easily to buy food and to socialize with other people. Particularly, if I get sick, it will be very frightening and a big hassle to see the doctor.

Reference Sources

Figure 1. Road leading to the temple is blocked during lockdown. Photo by Borey Am, 2021
Figure 2. People on motorcycles were stopped from going to the shops. Photo taken by Ratanak Lo, 2021