Cambodia to close casinos, halt rice exports due to Covid-19

A heath officer directing villagers to go home so he can spray disinfectant to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus in the slum neighborhood of Stung Meanchey in southern Phnom Penh, Cambodia. - AP

PHNOM PENH: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday (March 30) said the nation’s casinos would be closed starting Wednesday and rice exports would stop by Sunday in response to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, state media reported.

Last week, as Cambodia’s total Covid-19 infections topped 100 cases, the premier said the government was weighing whether to declare a state of emergency, but as of yet, no national lockdown has been announced.

The South-East Asian nation’s casino sector has boomed in recent years, spurred by Chinese investment in the south-western coastal province of Preah Sihanouk.

But growth in the industry took a hit at the end of last year when the government stopped licensing online gambling businesses, many of which set up shop inside casinos.

Cambodia on Monday confirmed 107 Covid-19 cases since January, more than half of which are foreign nationals, state media outlet AKP reported.

Some 23 people have recovered from respiratory disease.

Hun Sen, who has led the country for 35 years, said the halt on rice exports, a key agricultural crop, was intended to ensure local food security during the pandemic, according to AKP. - dpa/Asian News Network
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