PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) – Cambodia on Thursday confirmed its first death from COVID-19, more than a year before the outbreak, as it battles a new local outbreak that has infected hundreds of people.
A 50-year-old man became infected last month while working as a driver for a Chinese company off the coast of Sihanoukville and died Thursday morning at a Khmer-Soviet friendship hospital, the health ministry said in a statement.
Cambodia has reported only 1,163 cases of coronavirus infection since the outbreak began, but it is battling a new local outbreak that has infected several hundred people.
According to the Ministry of Health, the new outbreak was found in a foreign resident who broke the quarantine at the hotel in early February and went to a nightclub. This led to a number of infections, forcing the government to announce a two-week closure on February 20 of all Phnom Penh public schools, cinemas and bars.
The government has since extended closures to schools, gyms, concert halls, museums and other entertainment venues near Phnom Penh, schools and gyms in the coastal state of Kandal, Sihanoukville.
The health ministry said on Thursday that 39 cases had been reported from local transfers.
As the epidemic escalates, a non-existent luxury hotel in the capital has been transformed into a 500-room coronavirus hospital, with authorities enforcing a new law criminalizing health violations.
The country launched its vaccination campaign in February with 600,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine. This month, it received a dose of 324,000 AstraZeneca vaccines donated and manufactured in India.