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15 Jun 2021

Khuon Narim, Camboja News

Cambodia: COVID-19 spreads rapidly through garment factories as workers unable to socially distance at work or during commute

“Covid-19 continues to spread in garment factories, where workers cannot avoid a crowd”, 15 June 2021

When garment factories in Phnom Penh resumed operations last month after the lockdown, officials and factory owners insisted workers would be safe. Factories were to divide workers into two shifts to allow for adequate social distancing; and testing, tracing, and vaccinations would help contain the spread of COVID-19.

… Facing the highest rates of community spread, but too poor to miss work, factory workers say they feel they have little choice but to risk their health amid dangerous conditions.

“We clean our hands with alcohol and wear masks but we are still crowded together when we eat, use the bathroom, and work,” said Im Nen, a worker from Prek Pnov district’s Poansaing commune, in Phnom Penh.

On June 10, a number of communes in Pur Senchey district were designated dark yellow zones and given additional restrictions. The decision came after dozens of workers from the Grand Twins International factory in Pur Senchey district’s Choam Chao 3 commune tested positive for COVID-19

Those living in dark yellow zones are not allowed to leave their homes except to buy food and other necessities….

To Lang, 36, who works nearby, said she was concerned the virus could spread to her own factory and wished they would it close preemptively.

Outside of Phnom Penh, hundreds of workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in factory-heavy areas of Kampong Speu, Preah Sihanoukville, Svay Rieng, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Cham, Kandal, and Takeo provinces.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Worker, said that the current measures recommended by the Health Ministry aren’t being wholly implemented by factories and so it has been difficult to curb the infection of COVID-19 among garment workers.