The Cambodian Government, like many, was slow to react to the COVID-19 spread, though their initial response was more dismissive than most.
In late January, with the virus still largely confined to China, Prime Minister Hun Sen threatened to eject journalists from a press conference for wearing face masks, stating that fear caused by disinformation was the real illness.
It was surprising then, when not two weeks later, Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour apparently gave credence to the virus’ severity, warning of garment factory suspensions or closures in March due to insufficient raw material imports following factory closures in China. Some saw the statement as little more than another attempt to deflect attention from the potential impacts of the European Commission’s decision to suspend 20% of Cambodia’s tariff-free access to the European market from August 2020.
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