A total of 260 cases of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID have been recorded as of Tuesday, with 36 new infections recorded Tuesday alone.
“[The] Delta variant has been spreading in the community and especially in Oddar Meanchey, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and other provinces,” Health Minister Mam Bunheng said in a statement Wednesday, which appealed to the public to continue protecting themselves by wearing masks, washing and sanitizing their hands frequently, and following social distancing guidelines.
Phnom Penh City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey told CamboJA on Wednesday that the city has shut down some businesses where the Delta variant has been traced to in order to stop the spread in the communities. A curfew remains in place citywide and stricter measures could be instituted if the situation worsens, said Measpheakdey.
“We have closed some locations and markets in Phnom Penh where the new Delta variant has been found,” said Measpheakdey.
On Tuesday, the Phnom Penh administration shuttered Phsar Toch, Boeng Salang, Century Plaza, Doeum Kor markets and Lucky supermarket in Chroy Changvar district, following contact tracing of patients who had tested positive for the new variant.
Dy Rado, deputy governor of Oddar Meanchey Province said that six villages in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samroang city have been locked down as red zones and another two villages were made dark yellow zones.
“We also locked down some markets including Samroang, Chhouk, Trapaing Prasat, Banteay Ampil markets after we found some vendors in those markets tested positive for COVID-19,” he said.
He said that the province currently has 61 cases of Delta, most of them migrant workers or those who had contact from migrant workers returning from neighboring Thailand, which is suffering from a COVID surge.
“If we find people infected with the Delta variant, we send them to a treatment place different from the usual COVID-19 [treatment center],” said Rado.
Rado added that in total more than 5,000 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded since February 20 with nearly 1,000 recovered and nine deaths. Currently, more than 1,000 people are quarantining or being treated at centers.
Sok Lou, Kampong Thom provincial governor said that cases suspected to be the Delta variant were found in July in Prasat Balaing and Kampong Svay districts in Kampong Thom province and their samples sent to the Pasteur Institute for testing.
“Two cases of Delta variant were found in Prasat Balaing district’s SalaVisey commune and other two cases of Delta variant were found in Kampong Svay district’s Tbeng commune,” Lou said. “We have only four cases of Delta variant until now but we still continue to [test for] it.”
He said that two of the cases were traced to returning migrant workers but that they haven’t yet found the origin of the other two infections.
“Our health officials continue to seek other relevant people,” said Lou.
Kampong Thom province has recorded a total 2,109 cases of COVID-19 since February 20 with 1,313 recovered and 56 deaths. Currently, there are 465 people who are quarantining at the centers and homes.
Yong Kim Eng, executive director of the People Center for Development and Peace, said that the spread of the Delta variant was extremely concerning, with implications for the community and economy.
“We are concerned about the rise of the Delta variant because it will seriously impact the nation and especially Cambodian citizens,” he said.
In addition to closing borders and testing those returning, said Kim Eng, it is critical that the government provides support to Cambodian migrants stuck in Thailand while the borders remain closed.
“The government needs to solve the problem not only in the country but the government needs to solve for migrant workers in Thailand that can allow them to continue to survive without worrying about their living problem” Kim Eng said. “If they [migrant workers] stay in only one place it is safer than if they travel in this circumstance.”
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health reported 583 new cases of COVID-19 including 157 imported cases, bringing the total count to 79,634 including 11,352 imported cases since the pandemic began in early 2020. The large majority of these cases have been recorded since February 20, when the ongoing community outbreak began in Cambodia. The ministry has also recorded 72,803 recovered cases and 1,488 deaths from the virus.
(Additional Reporting by Ngay Nai)