Tragedy averted: Feb 20 Event scourge brought to its knees


Nine months ago, four Chinese women bribed their way out of quarantine. Two of them were Covid-19 positive and they went about on liaisons in several locations, sparking what became infamously known as the February 20 Community Event.

As a result of their selfish and irresponsible acts, Cambodia’s Covid-19 infection rate rose from a manageable level into a horrific situation resulting even in deaths, let alone lockdowns which scuttled socio-economic activities and induced gross suffering.

Nine months to the day, today, Cambodia has more or less bounced back with full reopenings on the horizon, thanks largely to the government’s stringent and seemingly harsh efforts to bring the virus scourge under control.

The February 20 event was the largest detected community outbreak to date, and selected districts and businesses in the capital were ordered to close. Hospitals in Phnom Penh reached capacity by February 23.

In just the first six days of the event, the Ministry of Health had confirmed that the number of hotspots linked to it had increased to 63 locations which included schools, restaurants, clubs and apartments.

Govt’s vaccination drive credited for the success

Moreover, on March 11, a Cambodian man, 50, died at 10.40 am from chronic lung disease in Phnom Penh. He was confirmed to have been exposed to the virus through his employer on February 28. This occurrence marked the country’s first death from Covid-19.

From the first death by March 11 to yesterday, the country has seen 2,681 deaths. Most of the deaths are linked to this incident rather than imported cases.

As of yesterday, there have been 117,035 Covid-19 cases with111,420 recoveries, which means  2,934 active cases still remain.

As the government’s preventive measures were firmly and effectively put in place over the intervening months, the number of daily cases has gradually decreased from an all-time high of 1,130 on June 30, to lower than 300 over the past 16 days.

This had led to the gradual reopening of sectors, including schools and businesses, and more importantly the revival of the tourism industry which contributes immensely to the economy.

On Saturday, the government announced a reduction in quarantine measures for vaccinated travelers to the Kingdom to enable a safe reopening of the tourism sector.

The Kingdom’s success story is also largely due to an aggressive vaccination campaign aimed at obtaining herd immunity to negate the devastating effect of the deadly pandemic.

Up to the present, all three age groups targeted for Covid-19 vaccinations in the Kingdom have crossed the 90% mark of the targeted population.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told Khmer Times yesterday that without the vaccination drive, the Kingdom might have suffered a worse tragedy caused by the pandemic.

“Vaccination is the part of efforts to reduce the tragedy of the Covid-19 virus. The Prime Minister has worked so hard to get dozens of vaccine doses for the sake of his people and guided each one of us to learn to live with the virus,” he added.

He pointed out that everyone played their part in bringing the scourge almost to its knees and enabled the country to get back on its feet.