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Gov’t Closes Sporting, Education Venues as February 20 Cluster Spreads

FILE - Students wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus walk on an overpass on their way to school in Phnom Penh on February 1, 2021.

The Cambodian government shutdown all sporting activities, except those broadcast on television, as authorities attempt to slow the spread of the latest COVID-19 community transmission event.

The government has reported more than 500 cases linked to the February 20 outbreak, which has taken the total case count since last year over 1,000 reported infections. The Ministry of Education asked all exercise venues and sporting activities to cease immediately, except for those broadcast on TV.

The order made on Monday applies to Phnom Penh, Kandal and Preah Sihanouk provinces, where most of the cases are reported, as well as other provinces.

Another Ministry of Education directive allows for staff to work from home and for only a few workers to be present at the office. Schools have already been closed in the three most affected provinces indefinitely.

Ros Soveacha, spokesman for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, said on Tuesday that all workers at the Ministry of Education must not violate the government's new guidelines to curb the spread of the new cluster.

“The Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport is also participating strictly in implementing all the guidelines of the government … meaning that education ministry staffers at all levels, students, teachers, and other relevant parties will join with the government to implement the legal guidelines in force,” he said.

Ros Soveacha said the ministry will continue to monitor other educational establishments that had not yet been asked to temporarily shut down.

Apart from the three most affected provinces, cases have been traced to Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, and Koh Kong provinces. Travel restrictions has been put in place in Preah Sihanouk, preventing entry and exit from the province, as well as curtailing movement within the province.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday ordered the government to work from home to contain the spread of the virus. He also announced that 49 new cases had been found as of Monday night – the highest single-day case count so far.

Tim Vora, executive director of the Health Action Coordinating Committee, said it was important for everyone to start following health measures introduced by the authorities, as well as monitor the wellbeing of their family members.

He said if someone was unsure if they were infected with the virus, they should seek medical attention.

“If we are doubtful, we must have a [Covid-19 ] testing to make sure, and we should do whatever we can to protect our families and friends from being infected,” he said.