Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

More than 500 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Phnom Penh in highest day yet

Din Han's garment workers arrive for COVID-19 testing after other factory workers tested positive for the virus, April 8, 2021. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan
Din Han's garment workers arrive for COVID-19 testing after other factory workers tested positive for the virus, April 8, 2021. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan

Cambodia recorded 576 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the highest one-day infection count yet in the ongoing viral outbreak.

Approximately 500 of the cases are believed by Ministry of Health officials to have originated in clusters from O’Russei Market and the Din Han Enterprise Factory in the city’s Stung Meanchey commune, increasing the total case count to 3,072 stemming from the February 20 outbreak.

A Health Ministry statement released Friday afternoon stated 544 of Friday’s announced cases were reported in Phnom Penh. The remaining 32 cases were reported in Kompong Cham, Kandal, Siem Reap, Svay Rieng and Preah Sihanouk provinces.

Ngy Mean Heng, director of the city Health Department, said two Phnom Penh high schools, Chea Sim Samakki and Chumpouvan, have been arranged to receive non-severe COVID-19 patients.

“We invite them to stay there and we provide treatment service for them,” Mean Heng said, adding that severe patients will still be sent to hospital for treatment.

The Health Ministry has also approved treatment at home for patients in non-severe condition. Mean Heng said any patients without severe symptoms may volunteer to stay home as part of a policy enacted Thursday.

Phnom Penh Governor Khuong Sreng spoke only briefly to reporters, saying he was busy arranging treatment places for COVID-19.

“We are doing this work and we will ban some places to reduce the spread [of COVID-19],” he said.

Prampi Makara district Governor Lim Sophea declined to comment when contacted by CamboJA.

Hort Vanthy, chief of the administration at O’Russei Market, also declined comment, telling a reporter he was in quarantine.

About 5,000 vendors from O’Russei Market were sent for COVID-19 testing after some last week tested positive for the virus. Meanwhile, about 3,000 workers of Din Han Enterprise were tested April 7-8 after a young worker was confirmed last week to have COVID-19.

Authorities and security guards clean at O'Russei Market, which was closed Sunday after vendors and security guards tested positive for COVID-19, in Phnom Penh, April 4, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang
Authorities and security guards clean at O’Russei Market, which was closed Sunday after vendors and security guards tested positive for COVID-19, in Phnom Penh, April 4, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

Nao Huot, a representative of the Cambodian Union Federation at Din Han Enterprise, said he does not know the full number of workers who had tested positive for the virus.

“I called more than 10 workers whose samples were taken [for testing] and all of them tested positive,” Huot said. “This is a big concern for our workers and the people who were in contact with those patients.”

The administrator of Din Han Enterprise Factory did not respond to a call for comment.

Ath Thorn, president of Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC), said was concerned about safety in the garment sector, where workers commute in tightly packed trucks and spend their days in close quarters.

“The government should enact strict measures for garment factories,” Thorn said.

He suggested employers rent vehicles for commuting workers that allow them to socially distance while going to and from their factories.

Meanwhile, Or Vandine, Health Ministry’s spokesperson emphasized on Friday that provincial governors should help in the vaccination effort by accommodating individuals on a two-inoculation vaccine schedule. Some individuals who have already received one dose of vaccine but may have difficulty receiving their second due to current travel restrictions.

“If they do not have the ability to receive a second dose, their first dose of vaccination will become useless,” Vandine said.

She said doctors are providing identity cards to individuals who had received that first inoculation to allow them to bypass the inter-provincial travel ban on the date of their second vaccination.

“I request all governors of the city and provinces to please help manage this problem,” Vandine said. “Please help to facilitate any people who are stuck in the travel ban.”

The country’s COVID-19 infection tally reached 3,604 as of Friday afternoon, of which more than 3,072 stem from the February 20 cluster. So far, 25 people have died from COVID-19.

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