One New Imported Case of COVID-19 Detected as Testing Continues in Relation to Hungarian Foreign Minister

A vendor carries fruits for sale in Phnom Penh on September 15, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
  • Phoung Vantha
  • November 11, 2020 4:18 AM

One American woman who arrived in Cambodia on Nov. 4 has tested positive for the virus, her fellow passengers are now also in quarantine, but confusion is mounting over the government’s testing of people in relation to the Hungarian Foreign Minister.

PHNOM PENH--The Ministry of Health on Wednesday (Nov. 11) announced that one new imported case of COVID-19 has been identified, with an American woman diagnosed with COVID-19 on her second test while in quarantine.

According to the ministry the 35-year-old American woman arrived in Cambodia on Nov. 4 via South Korea and tested positive for the virus on her seventh day of quarantine. She is now being treated at Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh.

Health authorities noted that the other 65 passengers who were aboard the flight have so far tested negative twice for COVID-19, but 37 of them are believed to have come into close contact with the infected American woman and will begin a new 14-day quarantine period starting from today.

Meanwhile, confusion is mounting over testing being conducted in relation to the Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó who met with a number of senior government officials, including Prime Minister Hun Sen. On Nov. 10, the Health Ministry stated that 1,166 people had been tested, whereas by Nov. 11 the ministry has said that 1,481 people have now been tested based on their contact with Szijjártó.

So far four people, including a Cambodian assigned to Szijjártó as a bodyguard and three government officials, have tested positive for COVID-19 and are being tested at Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital.

However, while Hun Sen has been regularly updating the public of his testing and his condition via social media, the Health Ministry has refused to say how many officials have been tested more than once. Authorities have said that a further 315 people have been tested since yesterday, but it remains unclear how many people who came into contact with Szijjártó have taken a second test.

The fact that Szijjártó’s visit flouted all of the rules introduced in August 2020 by the government regarding diplomatic visits to Cambodia and the Hungarian diplomat’s request that masks would not be worn during meetings has raised questions about the government’s response to the situation.

By contrast, Thai authorities have identified 16 people who came into contact with Szijjártó after he arrived in Bangkok following his one-day visit to Cambodia. A routine test at Bangkok airport showed that Szijjártó had contracted the virus, but testing of the people who met with him has so far only found one confirmed case—a 53-year-old Hungarian diplomat who resides in Bangkok.

The Ministry of Health went on to say that a further 50 samples require further testing as of Nov. 11, but at press time the total number of reported cases stands at 301, with 13 of those active cases.

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