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20 May 2021

Khuon Narim, CamboJA

Cambodia: Provincial authorities increase COVID-19 preventive measures as numbers of positive cases at factories increase; unions closely monitor the situation

"Provincial leaders scramble to contain, investigate COVID-19 outbreaks among garment workers", 20 May 2021

District authorities in Kampong Cham province are rushing to investigate a local outbreak of COVID-19 after finding dozens of new infections at two local footwear factories.

A provincial statement … said 51 workers had tested positive for COVID-19 between factories owned by the Carlington and Juhui Footwear companies. Both facilities are located in the province’s Choeung Prey district and, as in other recent outbreaks among garment workers, authorities are now pointing to tightly packed truck transports as a possible source of infection.

The latest cases add to 35 confirmed … among garment workers in Kampong Cham province and appear to be connected to the flow of factory staff out of Phnom Penh after travel from the capital was permitted to resume ... Health officials in other central provinces, including Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Speu, reported this week dozens of cases fitting that same pattern…, Takeo authorities also announced 41 new COVID-19 infections, mostly among garment workers.

… Labor leaders say the main preventive measures used to curb factory outbreaks, which so far have included partial closures of job-sites with recorded COVID-19 infections, don’t go far enough to protect workers.

Ath Thorn, president of Cambodian Labor Confederation, said authorities on provincial levels should lock down some areas or villages where workers have tested positive for the virus.

“If the situation continues, we will submit a letter to the Ministry of Labor for stronger preventive measures like in Phnom Penh,” said Thorn, in reference to the capital’s lockdown procedures that temporarily shut the core of the national garment production sector.