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COVID-19, closing all schools in Siem Reap may send wrong signals to citizens and investors, tourists alike

Minister of Health, Dr. Mam Bun Heng (3rd from right) addressing the media. CNE

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) has announced the suspension of education services in both public and private institutions from kindergarten to higher education in Siem Reap city.

According to a Ministry of Education press release, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport informed the School Board, teachers, teachers, education staff, parents, guardians, students and the public that institutions, both public and private in Siem Reap town have to be closed starting from now until further notice.

The Ministry of Education added that the measure was intended to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, following the discovery of a case in which a Cambodian had contracted the virus.

Although the closure was widely expected, it nevertheless sent shockwaves across several sectors such a tourism, which has already taken a bad hit in Siem Reap, hoteliers who have been suffering since January when this is supposed to be high season for them, investors, local businesses and other traders.

“The Government has been asking us not to fear as fear is more dangerous that COVID-19, now they have taken this extraordinary steps. What is next? We are a tourist city and we need freedom of movement. The announcement to close schools could have been done in a more subtle way.

“We seemed to have not learned anything from the Chinese when it comes on measures to control the disease. We were slow to react and we are still slow to react,” a hotelier who had seen his business slump by up to 80 percent since the outbreak started in January said to Khmer Times, on conditions of anonymity.

He added that the Ministry of Health is not a trusted government entity as it declared in the morning of Saturday that there were no new patients and that the four plus 44 quarantined were in good health.

“If so, how could one patient suddenly develop symptoms within a few hours and then be tested positive. The Siem Reap city folks were talking about this since noon but the announcement only comes late evening,” he lamented. CNE/KT

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