Cambodia closed all markets in the capital Phnom Penh on Saturday to contain a spike in coronavirus infections as thousands of families plead for food during a two-week lockdown.
The Southeast Asian country has one of the world’s smallest coronavirus caseloads, but an outbreak that started in late February has seen overall cases spike to 8,848 and 61 deaths.
Phnom Penh went into lockdown on April 15 and has declared some districts “red zones,” banning people from leaving their homes except for medical reasons.
In a new order issued on late Friday, Phnom Penh City Hall said all markets are to be closed from Saturday till May 7, saying that they have seen rising infections in markets and urged vendors and guards to get tested for COVID-19.
“During the implementation of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s lockdown measures, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has been paying close attention to the evolving status of COVID-19 epidemic,” the City Hall said in a statement.
“Focusing on vendors in all markets in Phnom Penh, it has seen continuous infection rate at a worrying high risk and urgent measures are needed to prevent,” the statement added.
As part of the efforts to provide food to people who couldn’t leave their homes in lockdown areas, city officials have given thousands of families 25kg of rice, a box of soy sauce, a bag of fish sauce and a bag of canned fish, according to the City Hall’s Facebook page.
In the government Telegram group set up recently for people to request emergency food aid from authorities, thousands of people have requested for food aid.
“My name is Tun Sreyphos and I ask for aid during the lockdown. ..number of family are 11,” said Tun Sreyphos in the Telegram group.
“I and my family ask for immediate assistance in the form of essential daily food… I had completely lost my family income due to the closure of the factory and the lockdown,” said Thorn Meng who has a family of 5.