Taking COVID-19 Seriously in Cambodia

Neither Sothie nor Samnang underestimate the deadly potential of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and hope to see everyone in Cambodia taking serious precautions. The current situation in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Spain is becoming more alarming where cases of the virus – including fatalities – are rising steeply.  

Hey Nang! If you take a look into the situation in Europe right now, I don’t feel especially optimistic about the slowing rates of infection. Even though the number of new cases and deaths seems to be dropping, far too many people have already lost they lives. Italy and Spain have both seen death tolls up to tens of thousands, but the US is experiencing the worst, with more than 300,000 people infected.  

Samnang: I worry for our country too. By looking back to the earlier timeline of the pandemic in Europe and the US, the infected cases skyrocketed mainly because so many people underestimated the seriousness of the situation. People took it for granted that they would all be safe, there were people going around saying “it’s just a simple flu.” At the same time they were underestimating COVID-19, the problem was already becoming irreversible. Infections spread around the country. To make the situation even worse, this kind of virus has a long incubation period, so the symptoms don’t appear right away – lots of people went about their business as normal, without knowing they were infecting the people around them. 

Sothie: Precisely. I also worry about our country. That is why I am supporting the measures that have been announced and implemented by the government all this time. Economists are concerned about the economy and I understand that, but if the economy remains entirely open and people continue to go to offices, workplaces and busy markets, the infected cases could jump rapidly to tens of thousands. At the end of the day, it is not surprising for the government to shut down the market. Furthermore, closing the economy after a huge outbreak has already occurred will do very little help in fighting the viruses. The cost of assisting the infected people outweighs the cost of closing the economy in advance. 

Samnang: I do not think that our people really take the situation seriously enough. The thing is that we usually live with a big family and have a lot of interactions daily. In this case, a small force can lead to lots of damage. Do we have enough medical personnel in standby? What does it take to perform one COVID-19 test, let alone hundreds or thousands of more tests? Can our laboratories facilitate enough tests? I worry that our healthcare system wouldn’t be able to handle a large scale outbreak. 

Sothie: That is what I think. I agree in terms of the restrictions made by the authorities to proactively prevent the spread of the infection. It might be less effective later on as you have seen in the US and across Europe. Better be safe than sorry. 

Samnang: It’s a strange thing that today, April 7 is World Health day. Frankly speaking, how is the world going to celebrate that? 


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