Cambodia ended on Thursday a blanket COVID-19 lockdown in Phnom Penh after 3 weeks, as busy traffic returned to some streets of the capital, though authorities retained tighter restrictions in some districts cases infections have increased.
The Southeast Asian nation has recorded one of the world’s smallest coronavirus caseloads, but infections have jumped from about 500 in late February to 17,621 now, with 114 fatalities. Authorities reported 650 new infections and 4 deaths on Thursday.
While health experts have cautioned about lifting restrictions too quickly, the lockdown had triggered anger from some residents who called the distribution of food aid inadequate.
On Wednesday night, authorities removed barricades in “yellow” zones designated as safe for mobility, while “red” and “orange” zones with higher infection rates are due to remain under lockdown until May 12.
“I request that people should not be negligent, because we are living under a new way of life in the context of COVID-19,” Phnom Penh’s deputy governor Mean Chanyada told a news conference.
Chanyada said yellow zones would see greater traffic flows and economic activity, but remain under a curfew from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.
As Phnom Penh opens up, authorities have also introduced new measures, such as only permitting 50% of workers in factories to return and with the priority on those inoculated.
Li Ailan, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in Cambodia, warned on Sunday against easing restrictions too soon.
“Relaxing #COVID19 measures too fast and too soon means a possible surge,” Ailan wrote on Twitter.