Report about urgent aid for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) @ Cambodia Part 2

[Original by Mariko OMURA, Cambodia Project (May 28, 2020); Translated by J. Tsuchiya/M. Olagoke]

I am Mariko Omura, the JVC Cambodia Office Representative. I continue to work remotely from Japan in collaboration with the staff in Cambodia. Today, I’d like to tell you about our food assistance project, following the previous urgent aid on hygiene products.

Two new infected cases reported from April 13 to May 25

According to the Cambodian Ministry of Health, there are no longer any COVID-19 patients in hospital after the last one (at that time) of the total 122 infected persons was discharged on May 16. On May 20, a new countermeasure became public: all people coming to Cambodia are required to undergo PCR testing and stay in an appointed quarantine site until they get the results. If there is any passenger identified as positive, all the other passengers of the same flight must be placed under quarantine for 14 days (in a hotel or another accommodation at his/her own expense). In cases where all the passengers test negative, each individual has to stay in self-quarantine in his/her own house or elsewhere for 14 days before taking the second PCR testing on the 13th day of self-quarantine. It turned out that, on May 21, the 123rd case and on May 23, the 124th case of COVID-19 were confirmed.

This is one of the government’s quarantine sites (after the local media).

Restrictions gradually relaxed and a visit from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

The local staff of JVC still refrain from visiting villages in our operation sites as much as possible. However, we accepted an inspection from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on May 21, which had been postponed since the end of March. When I was told that the inspection would be resumed, I felt that the Cambodian administration’s operations were gradually returning to normal. It seems that various restrictions are also starting to ease in major cities like Phnom Penh.

May 22: Offered food aid following the previous aid for hygiene products

On May 7, JVC provided support by giving masks and alcohol disinfectant to the people who came back from Thailand and were staying in the quarantine facilities in the six communes of our operation villages.

After that time, more and more people returned by land, heading home by themselves without undergoing tests at the border. As a result, cumulatively about 500 people were quarantined for 14 days in the temporarily closed elementary schools in the six communes. The leaders of the communes and the village headmen mainly tried to get the necessary supplies needed in order to accept those returnees. However, as financial resources of the communes were limited, they asked JVC for further support with food during the quarantine period; even just a little.

As JVC learned that they had already received food aid from the ruling party, wealthy people as well as from their neighborhood, JVC contacted and coordinated with an NGO which had already provided food. We decided to support them with rice and canned fish.

6 bags of rice (50 kg/bag)

6 boxes of canned fish (60 cans/box)

At some shops in the local market, we bought and arranged to deliver to each commune a bag of 50 kg rice and 60 cans of canned fish.

Total US$520

Just like last time, we brought goods to each commune.

The person in charge of the commune handed out the items in the quarantine site.

Usually, this is a schoolyard, but now people cook and do their laundry here.

This is a makeshift kitchen.

A message from the leader of the Kok Thlork Leu commune

The leader of the Kok Thlork Leu commune.

“The number of people we accept is decreasing and so is our burden. If the returnees from Thailand have their family or relatives in the village, they often have them carry everyday meals to the quarantine sites. However, if any of their family members is sick, or if they struggle financially because they have depended on the money sent by the migrant workers who are now quarantined, there are many cases where we had to provide their meals for 14 days. As the stocks which we had received from other aid groups are running low, JVC’s support has been very helpful.”

About our future activities

We have been discussing when we will resume our activities which have been suspended, including training sessions on farming. We have no intention to restart soon, though. We are going to take a step-by-step approach. For example, we are going to limit the number of trainees to about five, instead of 25 participants at a time prior to COVID-19, but at the same time, we are going to increase the frequency of training. We have not decided yet the date of resumption of our activities, however, we consult the administration and village headmen as often as possible, and if necessary, we will look into providing more aid in relation to COVID-19.

Thank you for your continuous support. Japan has also lifted the state of emergency over the novel corona virus pandemic. We would like to try our best to prevent COVID-19 infection from further spreading. We hope you are all well.

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