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Cambodia May Ease Thailand ‘Blockade’ in Days As Covid-19 Restrictions Extended 2 Weeks

Women drive past a casino in Sihanoukville, a coastal city that has become a gambling boom town
Women drive past a casino in Sihanoukville, a coastal city that has become a gambling boom town.

Cambodia may ease its “blockade” of Thailand border provinces within days even as it extends coronavirus restrictions for another two week.

The announcement that virus-suppression measures will be continued until month’s end came despite continued falls in caseloads to less than 500 a day as the country’s rapid rollout of its vaccination program appears to be taking effect, with more than half the population receiving at least one jab.

To date, Cambodia has confirmed 83,384 cases of Covid-19 with 77,754 recoveries and 1,614 deaths, nearly all following a breach of quarantine on Feb. 20.

Cambodia has also detected 429 cases of the delta variant, most in recent weeks, with 44 cases confirmed on Aug. 11 in Phnom Penh, Kampong Speu, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Koh Kong, Oddar Meanchey and Svay Rieng provinces.

Fears of the delta variant, which originated in India, have been fanned largely out of Thailand, where daily infections have surpassed 23,000 amid a delta outbreak and the country struggling to deliver on promised vaccinations.

Cambodia’s curfew will also remain in place but will now be in enforced from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. as opposed to the initial 9 p.m.start to the stay-at-home order. Private gatherings have been restricted to a maximum of 15 people compared with 10 previously.

Authorities have had trouble enforcing the curfew. According to the Khmer Times, more than 4,000 people were detained Wednesday night alone for violating the curfew and fined.

The Phnom Penh municipal administration said high-risk occupational and business activities such as in-class learning, nightclubs, casinos, museums, playgrounds, massage spas, alcohol outlets, cinemas and fitness centers will also remain closed until Aug. 26.

“All provincial and municipal authorities are advised to contain and prevent the Covid-19 spread with a proactive and responsible spirit and to continue to effectively and simultaneously take and reinforce all necessary restriction measures in conformity with the directive on the nationwide campaign dated July 28,” Agence Kampuchea Presse reported.

Cambodia hopes to reach herd immunity by the end of the year by vaccinating 80 percent of the country’s 16.5 million people. The rollout was extended to children aged 12-17 on Aug. 1.

Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth has said another four million doses will be needed to vaccinate about two million children, adding that 31 million doses had so far been pledged, with 22 million already received or expected to be received.

All 16.5 million doses of Sinovac on order from China are expected to arrive by the end of this month.

This story first appeared in UCA News, a Bangkok Herald partner.