Continuous increase in the number of COVID-19 cases threatens Cambodia’s reopening plan

The number of COVID-19 cases increased continuously, threatening Cambodia's opening plan - Photo 1.

Cambodia calculates isolation exemption for fully vaccinated tourists in November – Photo: AKP

On September 9, Cambodia announced that it recorded 511 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases nationwide to 96,339. Including 80,206 community cases and 16,133 imported cases.

Of the above 511 new cases, 152 were imported. The number of imported cases continues to increase as the border with Thailand opened on August 13.

According to the KhmerTimes newspaper, the continued increase in cases in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and many other provinces makes it difficult to assess the actual epidemic situation in Cambodia.

The Delta variant continues to spread in Phnom Penh. Authorities have documented multiple cases of Delta transmission among construction workers.

Cambodia is the second most vaccinated country in Southeast Asia after Singapore. More than 80% of people in the capital Phnom Penh are fully immunized and are even getting a third dose of the vaccine (a booster dose).

In April 2020, Cambodia closed its borders to control the epidemic. Last year, the country recorded no deaths from COVID-19 and less than 400 infections, mostly imported cases. However, in February of this year, the disease spread across the country, causing Cambodia to have a strict blockade for 2 months.

Cambodia is still speeding up vaccination progress. According to data from Our World in Data, as of September 5, Cambodia has injected at least one dose to nearly 70% of its 16.5 million population and 2 doses to nearly 55% of the population. Cambodia is expected to achieve herd immunity when 75% of the population is vaccinated by the end of September this year. The government also started vaccinating children over 12 from August.

Wider vaccine coverage raises hopes for a rebound in tourism in November, albeit on a small scale. The Ministry of Tourism and related departments are developing a plan to open the doors to fully vaccinated international visitors by November this year at the earliest.

To make travel more convenient, Cambodia is considering reducing or completely eliminating the 14-day quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers.

Currently, the capital Phnom Penh has reopened all business and trading activities at markets managed by the state.

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