CCF children and families are under the most severe lockdown in Cambodia after the Steung Meanchey area was declared a COVID hotspot as cases continue to rise in the country.
Residents are forbidden to leave their homes and all markets and shops are closed.
All of Steung Meanchey, which includes the communities where CCF programs run, has been designated a Red Zone under the new measures to stem the spread of the virus. A lockdown across Phnom Penh city has been extended to 5 May.
Cases of coronavirus in Cambodia have now passed 11,000.
Our Community Relations and Childcare teams have been working around the clock to ensure families are receiving essential supplies
Non-essential CCF operations were already closed. The Education department, medical clinic, Community Outreach and Child Care services continue their work on the ground. Other teams, including Sponsorship, are working remotely.
Five areas of Phnom Penh were given Red Zone status, including the three Steung Meanchey communities.
It means CCF families and children are now living under the tightest lockdown restrictions in Cambodia, putting many in a more vulnerable situation than ever before, unable to work and go out for food.
“The government’s restrictions appear to have stopped the exponential increase in numbers. We are now working with the local authorities to maintain the flow of supplies to those living within the Red Zones,” said Scott Neeson, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director.
“Our Community Relations and Childcare teams have been working around the clock to ensure families are receiving essential supplies of food, water, cooking materials, and any required medicines.”
CCF’s medical clinic, which is in the middle of a Red Zone, is still open with staff working on rotating shifts to protect them and ensure healthcare is available if needed.
Essential CCF are working seven days a week to reach families and children in need. All non-essential CCF staff are working from home.
Red Zones for areas at highest risk of COVID-19 were announced on the evening of 19 April by Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng in a bid to contain the ongoing community outbreak, which has shown no sign of slowing.
These included Steung Meanchey I, II and III communes where most of CCF’s facilities are located, along with all CCF communities, where families, children and grannies live.
Below a map of the Red Zones in Phnom Penh with expected lower infection Orange and Yellow Zones
Cambodia had been successfully containing the spread of COVID-19, seeing very few cases compared to other countries.
Throughout 2020, as the global pandemic took hold, there were only 450 cases recorded in Cambodia.
But an outbreak in February has led to the first serious Community transmission rates.
As of 27 April, there have been 11,063 cases detected in Cambodia, with 82 deaths.
The city was placed under a night curfew before a full lockdown was introduced on 14 April, lasting until at least 5 May.
CCF schools have been closed since February with students working online at home or with distance learning packs.
CCF communities saw their first confirmed COVID-19 cases on 21 March with six infections, including an 81-year-old granny, the parents of a CCF student, and a six month old baby.
All six recovered after being treated at a specialist coronavirus unit set up in a hotel in Phnom Penh by the Cambodian government and were allowed home (photo of two below).
As of writing, there are 14 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases among CCF’s communities, seven of which are students. All are receiving treatment. A further 56 community members are in quarantine.
Red Zones impose the tougher measures yet to control the spread of the virus. Roadblocks are restricting movement into and out of the areas with a police presence.
Families and children need CCF’s help now more than ever. Without support measures and packages, they would be unable to get food or other supplies.
Only essential businesses are allowed to operate in the Red Zone. Markets, restaurants, food stalls and groceries stories were all ordered to shut.
Residents are not allowed to leave their homes, except for urgent medical care, to receive vaccinations or for COVID-19 testing.
CCF is working with authorities to make sure families have food, water, essential supplies and hygiene kits.
There will be an ongoing need for CCF to support children and families.
The Cambodian government is distributing emergency aid to families in the Red Zones and a delivery arrived at CCF’s Neeson Cripps Academy high school last week for CCF families.
COVID-19 is already having an adverse effect on Cambodia’s economy and the impact is being felt across the country.
The situation has placed many CCF families and community members in a desperate situation. With Cambodia’s borders closed again, many families who sell recyclables have lost their incomes and means of putting food on the table, forcing them further into debt to feed their children and survive day-to-day.
CCF has launched an appeal for donations to ensure funds are in place to cover immediate and long-term support for children and families. Contributions can be made by clicking here
Cambodia began a vaccine roll out last month (March).
Vaccinations are managed by the Ministry of Health and NGO medical clinics such as CCF’s do not have direct access to vaccines.
CCF’s Community Outreach team has been working with community members to register for the vaccine.
* Update: On 27 April, a mass vaccination of all people in Phnom Penh was announced. Vaccinations will begin in COVID Red Zones on May 1.