Schools Shut Nationwide as Active Covid-19 Cases Reach Record 725

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A student from Bamboo International School in Phnom Penh heads home after his first day at school since Covid-19 closures in March, on October 1, 2020. (Michael Dickison/VOD)

All schools, technical training institutes and cinemas have been ordered closed nationwide by government institutions as health authorities announced 102 new Covid-19 cases this weekend, raising the number of active cases higher than they’ve ever been.

With 54 new cases and 18 recoveries announced on Saturday, and 48 cases and 15 recoveries on Sunday, the country now has 725 active cases. The Health Ministry said earlier Sunday that there were 58 new cases, but corrected that number in the afternoon.

Of the 37 Phnom Penh cases from Sunday, only one patient, a 67-year-old Cambodian man, had so far been placed at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital for treatment, with the other 36 patients still awaiting placement at a treatment center as of the morning announcement.

Seven other cases were found in Kandal, two in Preah Sihanouk and one in Siem Reap. The ministry earlier said there were 17 Kandal cases before correcting that figure. One foreign arrival, a Chinese woman traveling from China via South Korea, also tested positive.

In three separate statements released this weekend, the ministries of education, labor and culture said all private and public schools of all levels, technical training schools, and cinemas, art galleries and museums would need to close or remain closed until further notice.

The Phnom Penh municipal administration also announced on Saturday that all internet cafes in the capital will be closed.

Amid the country’s worst Covid-19 outbreak to date, Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal, Preah Sihanouk and Koh Kong had already closed schools, and targeted closures were also implemented around hotspots elsewhere.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered that all weddings be postponed across the country.

Some provinces are facing travel restrictions, including Siem Reap quarantining all arrivals from Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk.

On Friday, a joint statement between the Health Ministry and the World Health Organization called the current outbreak “alarming,” and urged people to avoid going out, wear masks, wash their hands, maintain social distancing, and avoid crowded and poorly ventilated areas.

Five Covid-19 positive patients have so far died in Cambodia, with three of the deaths — two of them on Friday — attributed to Covid-19.

Additional reporting by Ouch Sony

Updated at 4:20 p.m. with Health Ministry’s corrected figures.

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