The patients sit in packed ambulances before passing through metal gates. Once they are inside, they get a number, like C07-22, a thin blanket and a bedsheet, which is meant to be a mosquito net. Lights shine bright at all hours for constant camera surveillance. Each person is given four bottles of water a day and three small meals.
The Cambodian government, racing to contain a raging coronavirus outbreak, has set up a system of forced quarantine centers that patients say are run more like makeshift prisons than hospitals. No one is allowed to leave until they test negative — and most people are stuck for at least 10 days.
Cambodia was a Covid success story until a few months ago. From 500 cases and no deaths in late February, there were 72,104 cases and 1,254 deaths by Saturday — with nearly 900 new cases per day and almost 70 percent of the fatalities coming in the preceding month.