Cambodia closes markets to curb COVID-19, thousands plead for food

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line before being vaccinated against coronavirus disease in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
·1 min read

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) -Cambodia closed all markets in the capital Phnom Penh on Saturday to contain a surge in coronavirus infections and thousands of families pleaded to the government for food as a two-week lockdown continued.

Cambodia also reported a daily record of 10 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday, its health ministry said, as infections spike following an outbreak first detected in late February.

The latest figures take the country's overall number of cases to 9,359. Cambodia until recently had one of the world's lowest numbers of infections. It has reported 71 deaths, all in the past two months.

Phnom Penh went into lockdown on April 15 and has declared some districts "red zones," banning people from leaving their homes except for medical reasons.

In a new order issued on late Friday, Phnom Penh City Hall said all markets are to be closed from Saturday until May 7, adding that they have seen rising infections in markets and urging vendors and guards to get tested for COVID-19.

City officials have given thousands of families who can't leave their homes 25kg of rice, a box of soy sauce, a bag of fish sauce and a bag of canned fish, according to the City Hall's Facebook page.

A government Telegram group set up recently for people seeking emergency food aid, has received thousands of requests.

"I and my family ask for immediate assistance in the form of essential daily food... I have completely lost my family income due to the closure of the factory and the lockdown," said Thorn Meng who has a family of 5.

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Michael Perry, Alexandra Hudson)