No lockdown in Cambodia after Hungarian minister visit: PM

13 Nov

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen insisted Thursday his country would not go into lockdown, despite growing coronavirus concerns after senior officials tested positive following a meeting with Hungary's foreign minister.

Peter Szijjarto was found to have Covid-19 last week after a visit to Phnom Penh, where he met Hun Sen and numerous other officials.

Cambodia has tested more than 1,600 people linked to Szijjarto's visit and four were positive, according to the ministry of health.

As a precaution, the government has closed entertainment venues such as karaoke bars, nightclubs, cinemas and museums nationwide.

Schools in Phnom Penh and the surrounding Kandal province were also ordered to close for two weeks.

Hun Sen, who has tested negative but is quarantining because he had direct contact with Szijjarto, on Thursday shot down rumours about a possible lockdown.

"As head of the government, I affirm that there will be no lockdown in the country, either in the capital Phnom Penh or any location," Hun Sen wrote on his official Facebook page.

He urged people to wear face masks, wash their hands, not to gather in groups, and to practise social distancing.

The government has distributed two million masks to people in Phnom Penh and cancelled all state-organised events.

Cambodia has escaped mostly unscathed from the pandemic so far, registering 301 cases and no deaths.

A staunch ally of Beijing, Hun Sen spent the early weeks of the pandemic refusing to wear a mask or stop flights from China.

But as cases surged across Europe and the United States, the kingdom barred most foreign tourists -- though never those from the Chinese market -- and Hun Sen changed his tune, urging the public to don masks.