Banteay Meanchey province latest Covid-19 hotspot

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Officials in Banteay Meanchey province distribute food aid to residents in the province's lockdown areas last week. Banteay Meanchey Provincial Administration

The Ministry of Health has identified Banteay Meanchey province as another main Covid-19 outbreak hotspot in the country as – with 700 cluster cases – it has the highest number of infections after Phnom Penh, Kandal and Preah Sihanouk provinces.

In an announcement on May 3, health minister Mam Bun Heng said: "In Banteay Meanchey province, everyone is required to wear masks and maintain social distancing.”

Provincial Department of Information director Sek Sokhum said the authorities had just received a notification from the health ministry on the morning of May 4 and were preparing to disseminate this information to the public.

"In general, imposing measures requiring people to wear masks is not new. Other provinces have already implemented them, so we will continue to do it," he said.

Sokhum cited gathering as one of the main cause behind the ongoing outbreak. He explained that during and after the Khmer New Year, some young people gathered to party and were drinking despite rules against such practice.

"Most of the young people aren’t worried about this disease. During the New Year, we had strictly banned gatherings. But the youth were getting together anyway out in the fields. Like in one case of a young man who was found positive for Covid-19, he had recently posted on Facebook a picture of himself at a barbecue with his friends,” he said.

He warned that if people did not follow the government's Covid-19 prevention measures, the number of Covid-19 cases would increase.

According to Sokhom, as of May 4, there were nearly 700 Covid-19 cases in his province with no deaths.