Phnom Penh Down to Two Orange Zones Where Covid-19 Has Surged

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A barrier blocking a street into the Toul Svay Prey I “orange zone” in Phnom Penh on May 1, 2021. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Phnom Penh City Hall has designated parts of two villages in Pur Senchey and Russei Keo districts as “orange zones,” shutting down travel and businesses in a return to restrictions for a factory area and a dense urban neighborhood.

According to a statement signed by governor Khuong Sreng, all of Phnom Penh was turned “yellow” except for parts of Phsar Touch village in Russei Keo district’s Toul Sangke I and Prey Tea village in Pur Senchey district’s Choam Chao III commune.

Restrictions in those two areas will continue through June 9. Residents are banned from leaving their houses except for essential work, or to buy food and other daily necessities.

Toul Sangke I commune police chief Norng Sabong said more than 1,000 samples had been taken from Phsar Touch villagers, an area he described as “unorganized” and at high risk of transmission.

More than 500 residents were found to have Covid-19 on May 23 and 24, he said.

“Their understanding is still limited, and they don’t wear masks, and they talked and gathered for drinks. That caused infections,” Sabong said.

The area was formerly a red zone before turning yellow. Now it is orange again, he said.

Asked whether he felt disappointed about the situation, Sabong said it was expected. “I feel normal and I always stand by. … It is normal that when walking under rain, [we] will get wet.”

Sabong added most residents in the lockdown area had already been vaccinated with first doses.

“We need to be seriously protective. No matter how many times you get vaccinated, it is still [possible to be] infected. It’s just that we face less risk and are easier to treat,” he said, noting that the village was now locked down and quiet.

In Chaom Chao III, commune police chief Theng Kosal said the outbreak had emerged from a factory in a separate area, where about 200 positive cases were found. Many of the workers lived in Prey Tea, causing the lockdown, he said.

Barricades have been set up to prevent entry and exit, Kosal said, adding that the situation was a worry.

“Whatever the leaders ask us to do, we will follow that,” he said.

Commune chief Va Savoeun added that health officials were working to get samples from Prey Tea residents.

In the week to Thursday, City Hall has announced 1,771 new Covid-19 cases in Phnom Penh, showing an upward trend from 192 new cases last Friday to 299 cases today. Most have been listed as garment factory and construction workers.

Ky Theng Orn, 46, a vendor at Phsar Chas market in Daun Penh district, said on Thursday that although he lives in Toul Sangke I commune about 2 km away from the new orange zones, he was concerned about a resurgence across the city.

He had been vaccinated twice, but was still not leaving his house.

“I don’t dare to go out yet, because we can’t see the virus so I don’t dare. I’m scared,” Theng Orn said.

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