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

[Original by Mariko OMURA, Cambodia Project (May 7, 2020); Translated by J. Tsuchiya/M. Olagoke]

I am Mariko Omura, the JVC Cambodia Office Representative. I continue to work remotely from Japan in concert with the staff in Cambodia.

For more than 3 weeks, no new COVID-19 infections!

The Cambodian Ministry of Health reported on May 4 that there has been no new infected person since April 13 up till today. The total number of cases is 122 with 120 recovered and 2 still remaining in hospital. Most infections were imported. I really hope the decreasing trend will continue.

A survey in our operation villages and the results

Currently, the local staff of JVC refrain from visiting villages of our operation sites. Only when necessary, a few members originally from those villages go to the sites to perform their work such as progress management of the digging of reservoirs. They wear masks, wash and sanitize their hands as often as possible, and strictly keep social distancing. The staff members interviewed villagers while they dug reservoirs. They asked simple questions to know if they wash their hands with soap, how many people have masks and alcohol disinfectant, and what kind of things they are watching out for, etc.

The survey indicated that almost 100% of villagers wash their hands with soap and water, including the cases of those with poor water quality. It seems that the frequent patrol by the Ministry of Health, the announcement by village mayors, and instructive posters have been effective. People can buy soaps at a market in the village at a reasonable price, so most of them wash their hands more consciously than usual. If people continue this habit, the number of diarrheal diseases, an illness which prevails in the villages, will also eventually decrease.

Although less than half of the villagers have masks and alcohol disinfectant which are hard to get in the villages, many people make it a rule to avoid gatherings. The survey shows that the villagers take protective measures as much as possible.

A man from the Ministry of Health goes around the villages by motorbike, instructing on how to wash hands and how to use a hotline if someone has symptoms of COVID-19.

A banner on the back of the motorbike shows how to wash hands. Similar posters are displayed in the villages.

Information exchange with government administrators and a call for assistance

We shared the results of our survey with the administrators of the communes. We compared our data with theirs and exchanged information. In these efforts, the administrators asked us to support migrant workers who came back from Thailand.

Many people from the area where we operate go to neighboring Thailand to work. From the end of March when the border with Thailand was closed, those migrant workers returned to their home villages in waves. About 400 workers have come back to the six communes, where our operation villages are located. At first, some of them were not quarantined due to the lack of thorough countermeasures against the spread of COVID-19. But most of them are now being put into quarantine for fourteen days upon their arrival. The quarantine areas are elementary schools that are temporarily closed. Administrators, policemen and village mayors are accommodating the situation.

Measuring body temperature.

Unfortunately, most people who returned from Thailand had only a small amount of money with them because they had lost their jobs abruptly or had to leave the country without being paid. During the quarantine, they received donated food, masks and alcohol disinfectant from the government. Since the stock of these supplies is running out, the administrators asked if JVC could provide support on hygiene products.

Decision to support people coming back from Thailand

We discussed about this issue and decided to provide support on May 5. The people who remained in the villages have taken all available measures, and those coming into the villages are mostly the migrant workers from Thailand. We thought that providing support on such products will be very effective to prevent infections in the rural area.

We drove for about one hour to Siem Reap. We bought hygiene products after checking their quality. There is no shortage of these items in Cambodia for the moment. We bought enough items to deliver in our six communes:

    6 bottles of alcohol disinfectant (30-liter/bottle)

    24 boxes of masks (50 masks/box)

    6 spray bottles for alcohol disinfectant

Total $810

May 7, Delivery of the goods

Our staff members carried the items to the six communes. As they were not allowed to go into the quarantine sites, they handed the aid items to the leaders of each commune, who then distributed them together with persons in charge.

The staff members brought hygiene goods to each commune.

The person in charge of the commune handed out the items to target persons.

I wish they will stay safe in their fourteen days of quarantine without any trouble.

A message from the leader of the Pongro Leu commune

The leader of the Pongro Leu commune.

The situation has become better. We haven’t seen any new cases. But migrant workers continue coming back from Thailand and we are a little bit tired of taking care of all of these things every day. As we need more hygiene items and meals for them, I think there might be something that I would like to ask you again in the future. I am deeply grateful for your support.

This is all for today’s report. JVC Cambodia will continue to cooperate with local communes and consider necessary support for the COVID-19 countermeasures. I will update my blog if I need to inform you about anything that happens. Please continue your support for our activity. I thank you for your kind support!

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