On Wednesday three weeks of lockdown ended for Phnom Penh and there was an explosion of pent-up energy and activity as people were able to get out of their houses after a long confinement. Traffic noticeably increased as pictured here on a street leading out of town.
The Maryknoll office guards are now in zones where they are free to come and go to work so we have guards 24 hours a day again. During the lockdown they came only at night because it was so difficult to get through the security roadblocks coming to the office.
The revision of the color zones was good news for most people and only a few got the bad news of becoming a red zone. There seemed to be fewer snafus than usual in people’s moving around today.
Our DDP program manager was able to talk his way out of his home’s red zone and get to the DDP office along with our accountant. Together they were able to prepare the authorization papers to allow the banks to direct deposit the April salaries of the DDP staff.
Bishop Olivier (with hat) has developed a creative and aggressive campaign for food aid for people hungry because of the Covid-19 lockdown in place in Phnom Penh. Here he is at the center where they prepare rice boxes and bulk food. [Have you ever before seen a bishop carrying a pig carcass? 🙂 ]
Yesterday the prime minister confirmed that the lockdown WILL end tomorrow–but with some restrictions still remaining. What the restrictions are, no one is certain. We have informed DDP staff that until we get more clarity they are not to return to work at the DDP office.
Mr Hun Sen said: “There is no reason to lockdown Phnom Penh and any province anymore. We will reopen the lockdown area, except that a province or capital can close a small area which has a high risk of coronavirus spread. The past few lockdowns were compulsory to reduce the infection and deaths of our people.” His statement makes one wonder since it is at the time when the new infection rates are the highest so far that he is ending the lockdown which is meant to reduce the spread of infections.
During the lockdown, we are to stay at home except for obtaining food and medical care. I went out after ten days to get more food because I am sure the lockdown will be extended and we may even become a Red Zone and will not be able to go out for food. Click here for photos of the food trip.
Food has become a major issue in Cambodia with many people without adequate access to food on a daily basis. Bishop Olivier’s food program has been helping out in certain areas. Above is a food distribution to family representatives at a parish in Kandal Province.
Today the number of new infections was 338, a welcome drop from 600s and 700s earlier in the week. The persistent high numbers are a worrying sign since 2+ weeks of lockdown should have reduced the nubmer of infections, not increased them.
People have been protesting tht they need food siince they are shut up in their houses in the Red Zones. Unsurprisingly, the government accuses those complaining of politicking against the government.
At a time when so many workers cannot work and are not earning any income–and have no savings, the state electric company, instead of reducing rates to help the poor, issued a demand that they pay up on time.