Vietnamese people aid Cambodia in COVID-19 fight
HÀ NỘI – Doctor Tôn Thanh Trà, director of Chợ Rẫy-Phnom Penh Hospital in Cambodia, is much busier these days as he is not only managing the hospital as he normally does, but is also treating patients.
The resurgence of COVID-19 in Cambodia since February 20 has hit the hospital hard, with at least 35 health workers of the hospital under quarantine due to having contacts with confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The quarantined health workers were mostly from two key departments in the hospital – emergency and general internal medicine, which caused difficulties for the hospital to replace them.
“During these days, all medical workers have to work extra to ensure the hospital’s healthcare service delivery would not be disrupted,” Trà said.
As Cambodia’s COVID-19 vaccination drive started on April 22 and was expected to last for seven days, Trà’s hospital was also inoculating people.
“There is a huge workload to do during this tough time but all the hospital’s staff are determined and have tried their best to fulfil the twin tasks,” he said.
Cambodia is grappling with its latest COVID-19 outbreak, which has infected nearly 7,000 people in the first quarter of this year alone, while the country only recorded a little over 400 cases last year.
As of Monday, the total number of positive cases in Cambodia reached 10,555 with 3,577 recoveries and 79 deaths.
Cambodia’s government early this week decided to extend lockdowns in the capital Phnom Penh and Takhmao Town in Kandal Province for another week to May 5 to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Food aid to locked-down areas
The lockdowns in Phnom Penh, Takhmao and Preah Sihanouk, plus the social distancing imposed in many areas, and the closure of many markets, factories and production facilities, have caused great difficulties for both Cambodian people and Vietnamese Cambodians in the country.
According to Việt Nam Embassy in Cambodia, about more than 80,000 people of Vietnamese origin live in Cambodia, mostly in the provinces of Kandal, Svay Rieng, Preh Sihanouk and Phnom Penh.
About 25,000 families of people of Vietnamese origin living in locked-down areas or those with social distancing face a shortage of food and other necessities.
Responding to the issue, on April 24, the Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia, in collaboration with the Chợ Rẫy- Phnom Penh hospital and the Khmer-Vietnam association in Cambodia, presented emergency relief aid to 350 households of Vietnamese origin in Chbar Ampov District’s Champa pagoda area.
The aid consists of rice, face masks, and antiseptic solutions.
Earlier, the group handed over 150 aid packages to Khmer families in Kbal Koh Ward. The medical staff of the hospital spent parts of their salaries to purchase 10 tonnes of rice for the 500 recipients.
Also on April 24, the Vietnamese Consulate General in Preah Sihanouk issued a press release saying Cambodians of Vietnamese origin in the city can pick up rice and instant noodles at the agency’s headquarters.
For those residing in areas of high infection risks, the office will send aid packages to them if allowed by local agencies.
This week, the Vietnamese Embassy, the Khmer-Vietnam association, and some philanthropists are bringing aid packages to Vietnamese Cambodian and Khmer people in need in Phnom Penh’s Mean Chey District.
President of the Khmer-Vietnam association in Preah Sihanouk Trần Văn Nam informed the Vietnamese Consulate General in Preah Sihanouk that many Vietnamese-Cambodians in Tumnup Rolok were facing food shortages.
The residential area has been under quarantine for nearly one month since late March.
With support from agencies in Cambodia, the Consulate General delivered rice aid to 50 disadvantaged families in Tumnup Rolok on April 25.
Preah Sihanouk authorities and its Red Cross Society would soon distribute food free of charge to all residents in lockdown areas, Vietnamese General Consul Vũ Ngọc Lý said.
On April 25, Cambodia’s Khmer Times publicised a story about a Vietnamese woman making cakes and milk tea for those fighting the pandemic in Cambodia.
Nguyễn Thị Nhung, 31 years old, from Thanh Hóa Province, who has lived down in Cambodia for more than three years, is the owner of a grocery store and a shop selling bún đậu mắm tôm (noodles with fried tofu and shrimp paste) and cakes in Toul Tom Poung area, Cambodia.
Nhung’s business has been affected by the latest COVID-19 outbreak over the past 20 days. Since April 15, Nhung has switched to selling cakes online and only shipped within the district.
She then came up with the idea of making cakes and milk tea to donate to the anti-COVID-19 force in the area.
“I see police in other areas have been presented water. Therefore, I decided to make cakes and milk tea to gift to police in my area. On April 22 morning, I made 30 portions,” Nhung told zing.vn.
Nhung’s husband, who is half Cambodian and half Vietnamese, has been off from work and drives Nhung to offer the food by motorbike.
“The police force in my area consists of both young and old people. Each checkpoint includes five policemen on duty. When receiving food, they are surprised and thank me a lot. I hope that my deed will be followed by other areas to encourage the spirit of anti-pandemic force,” she said.
Eating instant noodles in a hurry to make 50 portions of cakes and tea before noon on April 23, Nhung said: “It takes me about three hours to make them. The ingredients are available since I also make salted egg sponges for sale. I do it by myself and don’t like calling for support. I will take advantage of the time to make as many as I can.”
Nhung and her husband also distribute money, milk, cakes, and canned fish to the homeless.
“I hope everyone stays calm and complies with the government’s regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control. The awareness of each person will contribute to helping the country to soon stem the epidemic”, she said.
Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vũ Quang Minh said since the pandemic broke out, Việt Nam and Cambodia had closely co-operated, shared information and jointly tightened border control to prevent people from illegally crossing or skipping health quarantine.
Việt Nam had also given medical equipment and materials and financial aid to help Cambodia in the COVID-19 fight.
Minh also appreciated the co-operation between health ministries of the two countries. During an online meeting with his Cambodian counterpart on April 22, Việt Nam’s Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said that Việt Nam was willing to send medical staff to Cambodia. VNS