Here are Soknym, the DDP Program Manager, and Fr. Charlie at the Ministry of Social Affairs today where we handed over a ton of rice to the ministry for distribution to people in Covid-19 “red zones” where they are not allowed even to leave their houses to get food. There the government delivers rice to the houses every day or two. That is the rice behind us. I thought a ton of rice would make a bigger pile!
In his remarks to the Global Summit on Covid-19 this week, Prime Minister Hun Sen noted that Cambodia has achieved the vaccination of 79.1% of the total population of Cambodia. Around 80% is considered the threshold for herd immunity, but we’re still counting between 600 to 700 new infections per day. That’s a really bad figure for us and makes us wonder if we have herd immunity or not? Or is it just the presence of the Delta variant?
Phnom Penh is the most vaccinated capital city in the world. More injections were given here than the official population of the city, and it is estimated that 99% of the population has received their shots. Now, in addition to the people in the rural areas, the government is focusing on teenagers, those between 12 and 17. Here young people are going to a neighborhood health center which happens to be across the street from a large secondary school.
For all the years since we started having a Sunday mass at St. Joseph Church in Phnom Penh, every time Fr. Bob Wynne and I would leave by the back gate of the compound, we would look into this recycling hub where trash collectors would bring in and sell the recyclable rubbish they found while making their rounds. Their open front and the church gate were opposite each other.
Then after an absence caused by Covid-19, I came back and found a difference. The recycling hub–just an area under a large metal roof–was gone and there was a “For Rent” sign on the gate.
Because we have not been able to have masses at the church because of the prohibition on in-person gatherings, it was a while before I again went back to St. Joseph. When I did, I saw that something was afoot: a new metal roof had been put up.
And then a month later we now have a typical Cambodian drink shop. If you look closely, in the back corner inside the shop there is a wooden structure where the new proprietor lives. Around the house part is plenty of space for parking the family motorcycles inside. And up front there are the drinks and snacks for sale. The open area on the right, behind the umbrella, used to be a wall but that was removed to give more access. We’ll have to see how this new establishment develops.
Cambodia is in a volatile and unstable situation with COVID-19. A few days ago, the WHO declared that the next two weeks will be critical for the kingdom as daily infection numbers remain high and the Delta variant becomes established. [All photos are from the Khmer Times]
On 1 July Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke to the kingdom by Zoom for more than two hours . Some of his points:
- He was in quarantine because his hairdresser had Covid-19
- People infected with the Delta variant will be quarantined for three weeks instead of two
- Cambodians working Thailand should not try to hurry back to Cambodia now that construction sites in Thailand are closed for a month
- He recommended “Chinese medicines” he said have been used to treat Covid-19 in the Middle East
- He ordered the Finance Ministry to buy up 80% of the coffins in the country to keep at hospitals.
We’ll see if his admonitions about anti-Covid-19 precautions are heeded.
Things are not looking good these days in Cambodia in connection with Covid-19. The last three days have seen about 1,000 new infections per day with an accompanying increase in the number of Covid-related deaths. [This graphic comes from the VOD website.]