In cramped factories, garment workers fear coronavirus

With the cancellation of Khmer New Year due to fears about the spread of coronavirus, Cambodia’s garment workers have been forced back into their factories this week during a time they would typically be in their hometowns celebrating. Yet many workers say not enough precautions are being taken to prevent them being infected at work.

The government last week cancelled the year’s biggest holiday — a break in which most Cambodians typically flock back to their hometowns, often using shared transport, for a week of celebrations — in an attempt to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Fearing many would ignore the order, it then banned any travel across the provinces.

The Labor Ministry also threatened that any workers in the garment industry, which is by far Cambodia’s largest export source, would be reported to the government and forced into an unpaid 14-day quarantine upon their return if they do not work this week.

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