PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – The Cambodian leader on Thursday ordered a two-week blockade of his home in the capital, Phnom Penh, to slow the rise in coronavirus cases, warning that “we will die until we act responsibly.”
The vaccination campaign was still in its infancy, with the Ministry of Health reporting 178 cases on Wednesday, including 145 plus two deaths in Phnom Penh. Cambodia has so far confirmed 4874 cases և 35 deaths.
The latest outbreak was found in a foreigner who broke the hotel quarantine and went to a nightclub in early February. On February 20, the government announced a two-week closure of the capital’s public schools, cinemas, bars and entertainment venues. With the increase of events, schools, gyms, concert halls, museums and other gathering places were closed all over the country.
The new measure extends a curfew in Phnom Penh from 8pm to 5am, barring residents from taking to the streets except for government-approved food and other necessities.
“We are expecting an impending catastrophe; we will die until we act responsibly and unitedly,” said Prime Minister Hun Sen in an audio message.
Hun Sen also ordered a two-week blockade in the city of Takhmao in Kandal State, which borders the capital and is considered the epicenter of the outbreak.
The non-functioning hotel in the capital has been transformed into a 500-room coronavirus hospital, and the authorities are enforcing a new law imposing sanctions for violating health rules.
Last week, Cambodia closed its most popular tourist destination, the centuries-old Angkor Temple Complex, for two weeks.
Authorities have also expanded their vaccination campaign, targeting 1 million doses a month since April. At the end of March, about 400,000 people were shot, about a third of them members of the armed forces.
In late March, Cambodia received more than 3.1 million doses of the vaccine from China through the World Health Organization (COVAX). Cambodia has a population of about 17 million.
Hun Sen said the vaccinations were voluntary, but that civilian and military personnel were at risk of being fired if they could not be vaccinated.