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Residents express concern following reported Siem Reap COVID-19 case

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
flickr/ Mateusz Kowalski

Cambodia’s second case of COVID-19 was found in Siem Reap province over the weekend. The Health Ministry said a 38-year-old local man came in direct contact with a man in Japan who tested positive after travelling in the province.

According to figures by the World Health Organization, there have been more than 100,000 reported COVID-19 cases, as of yesterday, with more than 3,400 deaths. Khmer Times reporter Sen David spoke to people in Phnom Penh to get insight whether news about the Siem Reap man has heightened coronavirus fears.

Kol Sothea, 28, a monk from Takeo province

“I heard about COVID-19 from the Health Ministry’s Facebook page. After learning a Cambodian man was infected by the virus, people throughout the country, especially in cities, are panicking – they are hoarding store supplies and wearing surgical masks.”

“I ask that people do not share fake news because doing so would create confusion. Please read information about the virus published by the government because the Health Ministry is reliable. I appeal to all Khmers to stay safe and healthy.”

Khan Mom, 32, a vendor from Phnom Penh

“Ever since Chinese New Year, my beverages have not been selling well. I sell drinks near the Royal Palace, and lately business has not been good because not many people come here anymore.”

“Recently, I received information that a Cambodian man in Siem Reap contracted the virus. Now I see people wearing masks, so I started wearing a mask. Sometimes I do not want to wear it, but I have to wear one to stay protected.”

“Everyone talks about this virus and they fear it. I temporarily pulled my child out of school because I am afraid of the virus. My children are too young, but they now know how to clean their hands and protect themselves.”

Nhem Chanthorn, 18, a high school student from Phnom Penh

“I heard some schools in Siem Reap city were temporarily closed due to the virus. I do not want this situation because I am a student, I do not want to see schools closed and students not able to go to classes. Students should wear masks and wash their hands to protect themselves.”

“I am in fear when I heard this virus came to our country – in Siem Reap. I used to buy masks for 500 riels each, but now some places are charging 2,000 to 3,000 riels. I ask sellers to keep a stable price so Khmers are helping fellow citizens during this time.”

Sok Khorn, 45, a rickshaw driver from Phnom Penh

“These days I only earn $5 per day on average because I get fewer customers. Before I was able to get a lot of customers, especially Chinese nationals, but they have not been seen recently. Before the outbreak, I was able to earn $15 per day from foreigners, but not lately.”

“Now I always wear a mask and I tell my foreign customers to wear one too to prevent an infection. I hope our country will return to normal because I do not want this virus to spread here – we are not citizens of a modern country. We need all people to stay safe and healthy.”

San Pisie, 19, a university student from Phnom Penh

“Some places like markets, restaurants and hotels are seemingly quiet because of the virus – most people fear it. I read some countries have COVID-19 cases, but now I heard the [Health Ministry] has confirmed a case involving a Cambodian man. I regret to hear about this, and I hope doctors can cure him.”

“I suggest Facebook users do not reveal this man’s identity because he has privacy rights – do not discriminate against him. As for me, my mother does not allow me to go to large gatherings of people because we are afraid of COVID-19.”

Kim Heng, 26, a grocery vendor from Phnom Penh

“Recently, people have been flocking to buy rice and groceries to store at their homes because of coronavirus fears. They are afraid to go out and they are afraid of prices doubling. For me, I hear and I follow them – I also store goods in my house. I am afraid my family would have nothing to eat.”

“My business has not been making a lot of profit. Before the global outbreak, I was able to earn $25 per day, but now I only earn $10 because I get less customers. No one wants to come out and eat or go shopping. Fake news on social media has bred panic.”

Photos Credit: KT/Chor Sokunthea

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