A senior Phnom Penh municipal official called on people living in the red zones to reduce online food orders as the service is a contributing factor in the transmission of Covid-19.

At a press conference concerning lockdowns on May 6, Phnom Penh deputy governor Nuon Pharat said: “We do not allow online orders to enter the red zone. But we see that our brothers and sisters place online orders and deliveries are handed over at the zone boundary.”

He explained that some people contracted the virus even though they had not left their homes at all during the lockdown. Online orders may have been behind the infections, he said.

Pharat announced that the government will prepare food at a market close to where people are living in the red zone. Until that time, it will also continue to deliver Covid-19 relief.

Youth Touch Dany, a resident of Boeung Keng Kang district, told The Post on May 6 that her family frequently placed online orders despite transmission risks.

She said her family had no choice because the Ministry of Health requires them to stay home.

“I am also worried that the delivery man might carry the disease and bring the virus into our home, especially given the fact that the number of people placing online orders has increased,” she said, adding that it was better than going out to meet people.

In some developed countries, online orders during the pandemic were banned and governments issued travel permits to people so that they could go and buy items at markets, Hen Phearak, a doctor with more than 20 years’ experience in respiratory illnesses, told The Post.

However, he finds that for Cambodia, orders could not be stopped because the service is needed to provide food for people stuck at home. It could be difficult if there is no service in their area.

“Online goods could also transmit the virus because we are in the red zone. We could have it without realising it and recipients risk transmission. In this situation, we pack the goods and spray them with alcohol.

“Recipients, before receiving the goods, must spray them with alcohol and leave them outside their homes first before taking them inside,” Phearak said.