Cambodia to end capital’s lockdown despite reporting record high Covid-19 infections & WHO warning of ‘surge’ risk

The Cambodian government has lifted the three-week lockdown imposed on the country’s capital Phnom Penh, allowing life in the city to return to normality despite Covid-19 infection rates continuing to climb across the country.

The decision to remove the lockdown measures was followed by a warning from Phnom Penh’s deputy governor that residents “should not be negligent” about exercising caution despite the easing of measures.

The government lifted restrictions in parts of Cambodia after residents grew frustrated at how the lockdown had cut off their ability to earn money or access food supplies, with jobs and markets closed under the health measures.

However, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) representative in the region, Li Ailan, has warned that Cambodia could be moving too quickly, and lifting restrictions could result in “a possible surge.”

Street barricades in yellow zones where infection rates are lower have been removed, so traffic and pedestrians can move freely again, whereas red and orange zones with higher rates remain under lockdown for another week, until May 12.

Case numbers and fatalities have continued to climb to record highs in Cambodia of late, with data provided to the WHO on April 26 showing 4,545 new infections – higher in the country than any previous point of the pandemic – and 29 deaths in the past seven days.

The country of 16.9 million was largely unaffected by the virus until the start of 2021 when case numbers and deaths began to climb. To help tackle Covid-19, Cambodian officials launched a vaccination program earlier this year, with over 2 million doses already administered and 1.5 million more set to arrive from China later in May.

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