It's been a bit strange here in Cambodia with the coronavirus outbreak. There have been worries, concerns and frustrations, but also hopefulness and a little bit of pride for the country I live in.
Cambodia, as far as I know, has been lucky. There are only around 122* official cases, no deaths and a lot of those with it are recovering. However, it is easy to be cynical and assume these low numbers are due to a lack of testing, established healthcare, or a spin campaign.
But we’re months down the line of our first reported case and there aren’t the overwhelmed hospitals, the funeral tents, or masses of unwell people you would expect if the cynical view turned out to be true.
There are, however, still a lot of worries. There’s fear and mistrust from the Cambodian community towards foreigners and Muslims.
Foreigners get suspicious glances.
Most of those with Covid-19 in Cambodia have been foreign tourists, locals that came into contact with the tourists, or a part of the Cham Muslim minority (who travelled to a religious event in Malaysia). Therefore, foreigners get suspicious glances and I've even seen a Khmer woman use a shopping basket from further down the pile because a foreigner had just touched the one on the top.
Shops and malls here are still fully stocked. The supermarkets have pasta, toilet rolls, bread, everything. You can even buy PPE in the local bookshop.
You can even buy PPE in the local bookshop.
However, shops are noticeably more quiet and absent of customers. People are all wearing masks. You have your temperature checked before you enter the mall. Some shops along the road are closed.
I think the most worrying thing is that I’m now essentially trapped here. There are very few flights out of Cambodia now, and the land borders to Thailand, Laos and Vietnam are closed. If coronavirus did break out here like it has in other countries, hospitals would be quickly overwhelmed and the lockdown might be quite severe.
Anxiety and worry is definitely not a cure for the coronavirus.
However, it's worth remembering to deal with each day as it comes. As Matthew 6:27 tells us: “Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Anxiety and worry is definitely not a cure for the coronavirus. So, I think I just offer each day to the Lord as it comes and ask for my daily bread.
*122: number of cases as of 16 May 2020
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