KEY POINTS

  • The 28-year-old woman died Thursday, five days after testing positive for COVID-19
  • She was allegedly forced to continue working at the Chinese-owned Century Casino in Cambodia despite being sick
  • Her family is now seeking compensation from the casino's owners

A woman in Cambodia who contracted COVID-19 in late September has died after she was allegedly forced to continue working at a Chinese-owned casino while she was sick.

The woman, identified as 28-year-old Hean Srey Nich, died Thursday in Cambodia's coastal city Sihanoukville, The Khmer Times reported, citing a statement from the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration.

A doctor consulted by the victim's family said she died of food poisoning and dehydration.

Hean, who was a worker at the Chinese-owned Century Casino in Sihanoukville, contracted COVID-19 five days prior to her death. But her family claimed she was forced to continue working despite being ill, Radio Free Asia reported.

The casino did not inform Hean's family of her death, and they learned about it from one of her coworkers, the woman's cousin Ros Leng alleged. Additionally, the casino allegedly did not offer to pay the family Hean's salary.

Another purported employee of the casino, identified as Vann Makara, claimed in a now-deleted social media post that 437 staff members aside from Hean were infected by the coronavirus and had been blocked from receiving treatment by the owners, according to The Khmer Times. 

The casino was also accused of forcefully confining its workers since March 2020, with the owner allegedly forbidding employees from leaving the building.

Vann's post included images and a live video, which she claimed supported her allegations. 

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration, in response to the allegations, claimed that a team of doctors visited Century's infected workers, gave them medicine and found "no noticeable issue," according to a statement.

Hean's family has since asked authorities to order the casino's owners to pay them compensation following the allegations.

"We should like the casino to resolve the issue and to give us compensation," Hean's cousin said.

Authorities have reportedly banned Century Casino from asking employees to work while they were quarantined. 

Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kouch Chamroeun, for his part, threatened legal action against hotels and casinos using forced labor. Businesses violating the directive would be shut down, have their operating licenses revoked and their owners prosecuted, the governor said.

A Century employee who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution said authorities sent two nurses to the casino to distribute medicine after the workers' Facebook video went viral.

"The treatment we received is acceptable, but we don’t know if this will change in the future. Right now authorities are paying attention to us. There is some improvement needed, but it is acceptable," the employee said.

casino-1030852_1920 Representation. Chinese-owned The Century Casino in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, has been accused of forcing its COVID-19 positive employees to work despite being sick. Photo: Pixabay