Cambodia’s leader Hun Sen in quarantine, cancels planned meet

Prime Minister Hun Sen departs for Europe. KT/Khem Sovannara. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

PHNOM PENH, Nov 6, 2020, The Phnom Penh Post. Prime Minister Hun Sen has cancelled his visits and postponed joining several planned programmes to continue his quarantine, The China Post reported.

The cancellation came after Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto, who met Hun Sen and other senior officials during his one-day visit in Cambodia on Tuesday, tested positive for Covid-19 in the Thai capital Bangkok.

In a Facebook post on November 4, the prime minister said even though he did not contract Covid-19, for the safety of all, doctors required him to live in isolation for 14 days. He made apologies to the King and Queen Mother, flood victims, as well as heads of states for the cancellation.

“So, the King and Queen Mother, please forgive me for not escorting you when you return from the People’s Republic of China and celebrate Independence Day on November 9,” he said.

“Brothers and sisters in the provinces of Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey, please forgive me for not joining in distributing rice seeds and relief donations. I will assign my representatives to distribute them instead.

“Please postpone the groundbreaking ceremony of the 38-road renovation project in Siem Reap province, which had originally been scheduled for November 16 to a later date.

“The heads of states, ASEAN governments and all relevant partners, please forgive me for not joining the [planned] meeting. I will assign representatives to join it from November 12-15, 2020. Though I can’t leave my house, I will still carry out work to examine, approve and sign various documents for the government,” he said.

The prime minister added he would take time during quarantine to exercise at a residence compound and not allow people to visit. He said he had instructed government officials, provincial governors and commanders of the armed forces to report to him and ask his opinion on state affairs.

“This is the best way for safety and health for all. I would like to thank compatriots at home and abroad for feeling concerned about my health and sending well wishes to me,” he said.

In an announcement on November 5, the Cambodian Ministry of Health said upon receiving information that Szijjarto tested positive for Covid-19 in Thailand, it had carried out contact tracing of people who had been in contact with him during his visit to Cambodia.

“As of 11pm on November 4, a total of 628 people, who were in contact with the Hungarian minister, had their samples tested at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge. Their tests proved negative for Covid-19.

“The ministry is identifying the contacts and informing the public when it gets a series of results of analytic samples,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport announced on November 4 that educational establishments whose individuals or students had been in contact with the Hungarian delegates had to delay studying for 14 days. They also have to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Online learning programmes of those establishments still proceed as normal, it said.

“The schools’ boards of management, staff, students, parents and guardians at the above-mentioned educational establishments have to exercise heightened caution and continue to monitor their health.

“In the case that any of them is suspected of having the virus, they have to contact the health ministry,” the ministry said.

According to the health ministry, as of November 5, Cambodia had not detected new Covid-19 cases. The country has recorded 292 Covid-19 patients in total, 286 of whom have been discharged from hospitals.

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