CambodiaCoronavirus (Covid-19)

Once Covid-19 free, Cambodia eases lockdown amidst surge

PHOTO: Cambodian medical workers address the new Covid-19 surge (via Flikr - IAEA Imagebank)

After remaining relatively unscathed during the global pandemic in 2020, Cambodia, like other countries in the region, is in the midst of a massive Covid-19 surge. As recently as late February, the country had only seen about 500 cases in their population of 16 million. But just two days ago, 650 new cases and 4 fatalities were recorded nationally. Cambodia has now had 17,621 Covid-19 cases and the highly contagious B.1.1.7. variant is now spreading in the country. For a nation that generally had zero infections per day, the outbreak that began at the end of February has often seen hundreds of new infections daily.

Until this new wave, Cambodia had managed to avoid a single Covid-19 death being recorded. But as of today, 114 people have died from the Coronavirus pandemic. The hospital system and medical facilities struggled to keep up with new patient care demand. On April 6, Prime Minister Hun Sen decreed that hospitals were nearing capacity and asymptomatic patients and those with only mild symptoms would be treated at home. The World Health Organisation, and their representative to Cambodia, warned nearly a month ago that the nation was on the brink of a national tragedy.

“Despite our best efforts, we are struggling to control the virus. Unless we can stop the outbreak, Cambodia’s health system is at high risk of being overwhelmed, which would have disastrous consequences.”

The Cambodian government imposed strict lockdowns starting April 15 in Phnom Penh and surrounding districts, labelling red zones with about 300,000 people living inside. Cambodia also has a 3-day New Year celebration falling on the same dates as Sri Lanka’s New Years and Thailand’s Songkran Festival and encountered the same problem of people taking holidays and travelling to be with their families, spreading Covid-19 as they went.

The lockdowns have been severe with extremely harsh penalties being threatened in an attempt to curb the spread of the newest Covid-19 outbreak in Cambodia. But some groups are warning that the humanitarian crisis is growing with the country strictly sealed off and people locked in their homes, preventing food and other necessities from being acquired. Facing criticism the Prime Minister ended the lockdown this week.

For now, vaccination seems to be the way out of this second wave crisis. The month of May brings an ambitious campaign to start in the worst infected areas and vaccinate about half a million Cambodians using the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccine manufactured by China. About 6 in every 100 people have been vaccinated in the country after 2.6 million jabs have been given.

Read about the current Covid-19 situation in countries around South and Southeast Asia: Cambodia, India, Indonesia, The Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.


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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.


  1. Yes we had three: do not cross tapes, across the front of our hotel, but we did cross. We had to to buy takeaways.
    The tapes have gone now from most places.
    All bars and alcohol sales are banned, but if one knows where to go, and tell them: Fred sent me, there are bars still selling.
    We were in a Orange zone, however those in a red zone were really restricted. They could not leave the Red zone.
    I have just talked to a young German who had a lot of paperwork to do to leave Koh Rong, and the inter province buses have only just opened.
    The Khmers have now decided to allow asymptomatic cases, and those with mild symptoms to quarantine at home. They have more sense than the Thais.
    Well we will see, if infections soar, they had not . . .
    I heard they were giving out free food in the Red zones, but alas, we were in the Orange zone.


  2. @Toby Andrews – The more posts you make the crazier you appear to be, IF that is indeed possible.
    You are now complaining about NOT GETTING FREE FOOD in the country you are supposedly preffering to live simply because you are just “surviving there”, IF you were not on the bones of your arse in south east asia you would be able to afford to feed yourself out of your own wallet, instead of wanting food out of the mouths of those who HAVE to live there.
    Do most people a favour and go back to “your country” and put your hand out for free handouts
    instead of bleeding of the impoverished people in a country you obviously cannot afford to live in.

  3. @Me – I agree with your statement completely. In fact, I don’t understand why the Thaiger hadn’t banned him long ago. His condescending, slanderous remarks and racism have no place here. Go home Toby, and stop being so angry. It’s not the fault of the world your parents named you “Toby”.

  4. “@Toby Andrews – The more posts you make the crazier you appear to be, IF that is indeed possible.”

    Not crazy, @Me, just flat broke – a UK state pension doesn’t go far even in Cambodia. Why do you think Thailand flung him out?

    “They have more sense than the Thais.”

    Not “more sense”, @toby, just less money – they can’t afford to feed those they need to quarantine. Better keep your fingers crossed for your free Covax.

  5. @check out – I’m not named Toby you idiot.
    I am not stupid enough to put my real name on the world wide web!
    Me too, is that your latest name Isaan John?

  6. I knew when I posted when I posted we missed out on the free food, someone would not see the joke.
    It revealed that Me, did not.
    I have lived in Cambodia over a year now, never worked, always lived well. I do not need free food.
    I have personally stopped giving money to beggars because they have received so much they are following me about.
    Anyone who choses a title such as Me, shows they have not much sense. A 12 year old boy would chose a title such as that.
    Sorry for annoying you, Me. Just stop reading my posts and you will not be offended again.

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