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Get up and about: PM orders reopening of schools and allows activities curbed over ‘November 3 incident’

Khann Chanvirak / Khmer Times Share:
Three men running as part of their exercise at The National Olympic Stadium while observing virus prevention measures. KT/Siv Channa

Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the reopening of schools, museums, cinemas and other venues after the fourth tests on more than 1,400 people affected by the “November 3 incident” came back negative for COVID-19.

The order comes after Mr Hun Sen announced that quarantines over the “November 3 incident” would end today for Phnom Penh and Kandal, Pursat, Prey Veng and Kampong Thom provinces, while Kampong Chhnang province will end them on Saturday.  Kep, Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Cham provinces will end quarantines on Monday and Preah Vihear and also Ratanakiri provinces on Wednesday.

Mr Hun Sen delivered a voice message on Wednesday night, deciding to allow schools to reopen on Monday.

He also allowed the wedding ceremonies, which residents decided to suspend in the past to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but said people had to adhere to preventive measures as instructed by the Ministry of Health.

“Please facilitate marriages, just pay attention to hygiene issues, such as the requirements of the Ministry of Health,” Mr Hun Sen said.

“We should remain cautious, but we must not shut down the economy and other socio-economic movements. Take care to solve the problem. Conduct checks to facilitate activities and remind the people to always be careful, such as temperature checks, hand washing, social distancing and so on,” he added.

Kang Phirun, who will marry next month, said he was pleased to hear that the “November 3 incident” was coming to an end, and the government is allowing weddings again.

He added that his and his fiancee’s parents decided to have the wedding day on the “12th day of the 12th month” (December 12), and they planned to only invite about 100 relatives and friends.

“We can now invite up to 500 relatives, friends and guests. We will remain vigilant, such as by checking the guests temperatures before they enter the ceremony, distributing disinfectant alcohol and following food hygiene,” he said.

People attending a wedding reception before the ‘November 3 incident’ curbs were announced. KT/Siv Channa

On November 3, Hungarian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Péter Szijjártó, inaugurated the Hungarian Embassy in Cambodia and met with Mr Hun Sen and senior Cambodian leaders. On November 4, Szijjártó tested positive for COVID-19 during his official visit to Thailand.

This raised serious concerns in Cambodia. Mr Hun Sen had issued a strict and urgent order to suspend studies at public and private schools in Phnom Penh and Kandal province to ensure that there was no spread of COVID-19. The government also suspended all sporting activities in the National Olympic Stadium and temporarily closed KTVs, entertainment clubs, cinemas and museums across the country.

Meanwhile, Mr Hun Sen shared his health condition for the first time since completion of his quarantine after coming into contact with Szijjártó.

Mr Hun Sen wrote on his Facebook yesterday that due to his busy schedule, especially dealing with flood victims, plus a 14-day quarantine, he has not been golfing or exercising for more than a month.

“Today I went golfing for the first time with new equipment, and my strength seemed to be stronger after a 14-day break. What is different is that my belly seems bigger, so I have to walk eight to 10 kilometres today,” he said.

“I’m sorry I took the golf day, but I have already reviewed and signed the documents, and in the evening, I will continue to work. The reason I do this is because I want to know about my health after 14 days of self-isolation, how has it changed,” he added.

Mr Hun Sen finished his posting with: “Goodbye to the  ‘November 3 incident’.”

Mr Hun Sen yesterday also sent a gratitude letter to Dr Laurence Baril, the director of the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, and the team for their assistance in COVID-19 testing for the government officials, including himself and all those directly and indirectly exposed in the “November 3 incident”, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

The official Facebook page of the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge yesterday said: “As of today, Institut has done more than 115,000 COVID-19 RT-PCR tests and has contributed to the identification of 297 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the epidemic.”

The Prime Minister announced on Wednesday that the “November 3 incident” has come to a close after he tested negative for COVID-19 in the final round of testing.

There were four people who tested positive for COVID-19 during the incident. They were a bodyguard assigned to the Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister, Suos Yara, Member of Parliament and spokesman for the Cambodian People’s Party, Sar Chetra, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Agriculture and Csaba Őry, the Hungarian Ambassador to Cambodia and Vietnam.

Yara recovered on Tuesday.

In related news, the Ministry of Health yesterday issued a statement that no new cases of COVID-19 were detected in Cambodia.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said yesterday that Cambodia has gone through four high-responsibility events that have posed a high risk of transmitting COVID-19

She said these events were, firstly, Cambodian migrant workers returning to the country in the middle of the pandemic. Secondly, the MS Westerdam docking in the port of Preah Sihanouk province. Thirdly, facilitating Cambodians stranded abroad to be able to return to their homes. And fourthly, the “November 3 incident”.

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