An opinion article published in Nikkei Asian Review.
By Kimkong Heng
Government’s strong hand and international aid have led to zero deaths from COVID-19.
In Southeast Asia, only Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have until now reported zero deaths from COVID-19. Although critics have argued that some countries in this region lack the capacity to detect the virus, are underreporting cases, hiding reported cases or discouraging people from reporting them with legal threats, it seems that these countries have been able to contain the spread of the virus.
Cambodia had confirmed a total of 122 cases of COVID-19 in its population of 16 million by April 12, after which no new cases were reported for five weeks until three in late May. All of those 122 patients have recovered.
Despite having a weak health care system and being a resource-limited country, Cambodia has surprisingly emerged as a COVID-19 success story, while much richer Singapore is now battling a second wave of infections. So what is behind Cambodia’s apparent success?
First, Cambodia’s response strategy has turned out to be effective, at least for now. The country has performed around 16,000 tests since January and has conducted extensive contact tracing.
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Kimkong Heng is a Research Fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. These are his personal views.