After a few years of frailty, Cambodian Royal Ballet dancer Em Theay died aged 88 years old at her home in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
As per policy for every death now, the COVID-19 team arrived at her home and took a nasal swab from her corpse. She officially died of COVID-19 based on a positive test to viral remnants. There is no information on which test was used or whether confirmatory sequencing was undertaken to confirm a true positive result. Whether viral remnants were viable, and whether they were responsible for her death via normal diagnostic procedures requiring clinical symptoms, is irrelevant. This is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and COVID-19 related interventions on all corpses are now considered as life saving as lockdown.
Those criticising the COVID-19 response are threatened with crushing fines and jail time. Noone openly criticises it. Young Cambodian nurses with limited alternative employment opportunities post photographs on social media of themselves dressed in full Personal Protective Equipment: face shields, surgical masks, plastic gowns, gloves; supportive of a new program overriding all others, which provides purpose, belonging and income in an already tiny, and shrinking opportunity market.
Regular testing and experimental vaccination are now mandatory to many jobs, especially the thousands of young factory workers who are transported between their village and factory on cattle trucks each day. With even fewer prospects than the health care staff employed to test and vaccinate, they have no choice and everyday a proportion of young, healthy men and women with no right to sick pay are placed into quarantine following a positive test. Most such results are either false positives or detecting tiny amounts of virus scurrying across the nasal mucosa of immune healthy individuals. None of these young people being labelled “cases” are at risk of COVID-19 disease. Many thousands of swabs per day in a nation becoming further impoverished, living in fear and in constant threat of lockdown due to PHEIC.
A friend’s son who cleans in a hospital has been quarantined at home with “COVID-19” after testing positive. He told his father that he overheard the doctors expressing doubt about the test “because almost every test is positive, it is not normal for any test especially for healthy people, but they dare not say anything”.
The family of Em Theay have reportedly stated in local (non-English) media that they don’t accept her COVID-19 diagnosis as she had been unwell for years and did not have Covid symptoms. A quick cremation without the usual ceremonial procedures was mandated per local PHEIC protocols, supported by in-country WHO and CDC advisors, for public health and safety.
There are those who believe that had Cambodia locked down more efficiently, the 368 people who have Covid documented as their cause of death would still be alive. Even if COVID-19 disease was responsible for every one of these deaths, those people are wrong. Regardless of what we’ve been told to believe in the past year, viruses do not follow human rules. Whilst it is now an established PHEIC intervention, lockdown is not a public health intervention with any merit. We knew this pre-Covid. Post-Covid we have mountains of literature to confirm what we knew.
Meanwhile, in less fortunate parts of Cambodia and the poor world starvation, acknowledged as a weapon of war when imposed by “bad people”, is also now an accepted consequence of PHEIC public health interventions. It is only logical to ask then, who are the bad people behind this PHEIC?