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Concern but no panic in capital over virus

Jose Rodriguez T. Senase / Khmer Times Share:
A maid at Garden Mansion condominium in Street 252, Phnom Penh, demonstrates the anti-viral measures residents and guests are required to use. KT/Mark Hughes

Despite the scare that Coronavirus is causing in virtually every part of the Kingdom, it is still business as usual for many establishments, especially in Phnom Penh.

A check of many shops and markets around downtown Phnom Penh showed that panic buying and other negative effects from the deadly malady has yet to occur.

Shelves in some stores were seen to be depleted on Tuesday night but had been replenished by yesterday.

There are fears that businesses in the Kingdom could be severely affected by the scare arising from the deadly disease that has killed 132, infected at least 6,000 globally and spread to at least 15 countries, according to the news agency AFP.

Many in Cambodia, with its high level of Chinese visitors, fear will share China’s predicament, where there have been municipal lockdowns and restrictions on movements to stop the spread of the disease.

Many condominium owners have been insisting guests and residents use free masks and sanitising liquids to prevent contagion.

Several local and foreign airlines have also cancelled flights to and from China.

These include the Cambodia-headquartered Lanmei Airlines, which suspended Wuhan-Sihanoukville flights earlyier this week.

Hong Kong’s main stocks index slumped 2.8 percent by the close last night as traders returning from the Lunar New Year break played catch-up with the global selloff triggered by the epidemic.

Panic buying is widespread in Wuhan and nearby areas. Coronavirus is believed to have originated from the Chinese metropolis of more than 11 million people.

Supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, retail shops, bars, gas stations, pharmacies and other businesses around Phnom Penh have their usual number of customers, or even more at times.

At Lucky Supermarket along Preah Sihanouk Boulevard, throngs of shoppers, many of them foreigners, were observed buying or looking at a wide array of products that the supermarket offers. Lucky Supermarket is among the biggest supermarket chains operating in Cambodia.

“Actually, we have more customers coming here since the Coronavirus thing started. But most of them come to inquire if we sell masks,” said a staff at Lucky Supermarket, who declined to give his name.

The same staff earlier attended to queries from a Chinese-looking couple who were looking for sanitisers and masks.

The Lucky Market staff’s observations were echoed by a worker at an Indian restaurant in the BKK area.  “We have still many customers that come to our restaurant,” the staff member said, without identifying himself.

For some businesses, the scare that has came out of the Coronavirus has been an opportunity for them to expand their business or sells products that they don’t normally offer to customers.

Filmart Trading, a Filipino store in the city, has announced via its Facebook page that it is selling some products that can help prevent or minimise the spread of Coronavirus.

“To our fellow Filipinos, alcohol is available here at Filmart shop. Buy now before supplies run out,” a post on the official Facebook page of the company stated.

Medical alcohol is said to be effective in preventing the rapid spread of Coronavirus.

In Thailand, workers have been spraying it at railway stations to contain its spread.

First reported in Wuhan in December last year, Coronavirus has now spread to more nearly 20 countries, including United States, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, France Germany, Japan and South Korea.

In Cambodia, there is one confirmed case from Sihanoukville. There are legitimate fears that there are more positive cases in Cambodia after it was confirmed by Chinese and Cambodian Civil Aviation Authorities that more than 3,000 residents of Wuhan visited Cambodia before Chinese authorities instituted a complete lockdown of the city on Thursday.

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