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14 Apr 2021

Cambodia: More than 1000 garment workers from over 200 factories across Phnom Penh test positive for COVID-19, prompting concerns of worker safety & non-payment of wages

According to a Cambodian Government research subcommittee, 1023 garment workers from at least 61 factories across Phnom Penh had tested positive for COVID-19 as of 19 April 2021. In early April, following a surge in cases, the city’s Governor implemented lockdown measures to bring infections under control ahead of the upcoming Khmer New Year holiday.

Garment factories have been allowed to remain open, with garment workers exposed to a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 from their cramped commuting and working conditions. Yang Sophorn, President of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, expressed concerns over the difficulty of controlling the spread of COVID-19 in workers’ communities. She said: “Workers are truly worried and afraid. But they have no other choices besides continuing to work at their factory.” Some factories are struggling to pay the salaries of garment workers in quarantine, leaving workers without money for food and other supplies while quarantined.

World Health Organization country representatives Dr Li Ailan said: “More than half … of cases either cannot be linked to the original source of the outbreak or are under investigation. This is a warning sign that the virus is silently spreading within the community.” Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Health Ministry to prepare to treat people with mild COVID-19 symptoms at home after the recent surge in cases stretched the capacity of hospitals around the country.