Update on our Family Support Program
Hun Sen, Cambodia's Prime Ministre announces today announced a new 14 day lockdown on Thai Border areas as newly reported Covid covid cases cases remain high.
A brief history of Covid in Cambodia: Cambodia closed to foreign travelers in March 2020 due to COVID. Initially Cambodia was not hit hard and infection numbers were well controlled. A sudden COVID outbreak in Phnom Penh in February 2021 caused new and then continuing restrictions, including severely restricted travel in and out of the cities. Checkpoints on the major highways made it nearly impossible for city residents to visit their home villages or for people from the rural provinces to enter the city earlier this year. Now, although some of these drastic restrictions have been modified, schools are currently closed and entry into Cambodia remains very difficult with enforced 14 day quarantines as Cambodia continues with a series of rolling lockdowns in direct response to the COVID case count.
A sense of fear had spread through Phnom Penh as schools and businesses including the major markets, were impacted with rolling lockdowns and markets and streets became and remain largely deserted. Now, Phnom Penh remains on a partial lockdown as new cases remain high, while Cambodia announces, today, a 14 day lockdown of 8 provincial areas near the Thai border . Consequently many businesses like hotels and tourist services remain closed,as are many of the garment factories, although some essential services like banks are now open. Some markets have reopened, but they remain largely without customers. Although vaccination rates are increasing, Cambodia is using the Chinese vaccine rate which has an estimated effectiveness of about 50%. so community spread remains a real risk.
Most of our FSP patients are now vaccinated, but their children are not yet vaccinated because Cambodia is only just now opening vaccines to 12 to 17 year old children.
Our FSP home visit coordinator, is herself a former patient from our program. She conducts weekly home visits with our FSP patients to monitor and report on each family’s situation. A mother of three young children, she is HIV positive and although vaccinated, she is vulnerable to Covid. . Understandably, she wants to avoid any possible exposure to COVID. This woman has been associated with our program for 15 years , first as a patient and now as member of our staff. We have agreed with her, that in the interest of safety, we have suspended home visits until the community spread of COVID in Phnom Penh is brought under control. She remains in close telephone contact with our patients.
We continue to support 16 fragile families. A key part of our “ contract” with our patient families is that they work when, if and as able, to help, at least in a very small way, in their own support. Now, due to COVID closures and their own medical conditions, it is not possible for them to work at their modest , part time jobs at market stalls, etc. and their opportunitties to bring in even a bit of money has largely disappeared. Instead, for safety reasons, they are home bound. Now, more than ever, the fragile families in our program depend upon us, as any sort of part time work presents a potentially serious medical danger.
We are deeply grateful to you,our many supporters for your generosity that helps these fragile families live with dignity. On behalf of the families in our program, please accept our heartfelt thanks. We hope that you will continue on with in our efforts , particularly during these very difficult times.
Barbara & Mark Rosasco