Until recently, Cambodia had managed to avoid the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, though it wasn’t entirely clear how or through what policies. But with the arrival of the country’s first serious outbreak, the government has taken an approach that essentially manufactures a food security and economic crisis in the capital.
After reporting almost no cases of COVID-19 for the first year of the pandemic, Cambodia has now seen over 14,500 cases and over 100 deaths since late February with daily reported cases topping 700.
The outbreak began when four Chinese women left hotel quarantine early and subsequent testing found dozens of cases in the area—within days, Phnom Penh’s hospitals reached capacity for COVID-19 patients. As the outbreak continued, the government imposed a strict lockdown on the capital on April 15, with police reportedly beating lockdown violators using rattan canes.