Covid-19 infections take toll on monks, clergies in Kingdom

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A monk comes and receives food aids at Wat Botum pagoda in Phnom Penh's Daun Penh district on Tuesday. Heng Chivoan

In the first six months of this year, a total of 239 Buddhist monks and 206 members of the Muslim and Christian clergy across the country have contracted Covid-19, eight of whom died from the disease, according to the Ministry of Cults and Religions.

A ministry report seen by The Post on July 20 said that of the 239 monks, 134 are in Phnom Penh, 88 in Tbong Khmum, 10 in Kampot, and the rest are in Kandal, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng and Kampong Cham. To date, 66 of them have recovered.

Of the 206, the report said, 203 are Muslim and three are Christian. Among them, 138 are receiving treatment and 62 have recovered.

And of all the 445 patients, eight have died, including two monks and six Muslim.

Ministry spokesman Seng Somony told The Post that working groups are continuing to register Covid-19 patients across the country’s religious communities.

Somony said some pagodas throughout the country have been locked down after monks and laymen contracted the coronavirus.

In the latest case in Phnom Penh, authorities decided to lock down Botum Vatey pagoda in Daun Penh district’s Chaktomuk commune for two weeks after Covid-19 cases were detected there.

A commune police officer who asked not to be named told The Post that the pagoda was cordoned off after medical workers tested 402 monks, nuns and laypeople residing there, 20 of whom tested positive – 10 monks and 10 students.

The officer said the first tests were conducted by members of the Samdech Techo Voluntary Youth Doctor Association (TYDA) on July 19. TYDA then admitted them to the Tuol Pongre treatment centre.

Separately in the capital’s Chamkarmon district, the sub-commission for tracking Covid-19 said 43 monks and laypeople at Tuol Tom Poung Pagoda in Tuol Tom Poung I commune have also tested positive for Covid-19.

A number of positive cases have also been detected at other pagodas in Phnom Penh, including Prek Leap and Samroung Andet pagodas in Chroy Changvar and Sen Sok districts respectively.

In Takeo province, the Donkeo town administration said on July 19 that medical workers had tested 18 monks at Seihak Ratanaram pagoda and found 10 positive cases.