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WHO chief thanks Cambodian government for allowing Westerdam to dock in Sihanoukville, despite Coronavirus scare

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Police officers stand guard at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port as MS Westerdam is docking. KT/ Siv Channa

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked Cambodian government for allowing the Holland America owned MS Westerdam cruise ship, which has been turned away from many countries to dock at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.

In his letter ahead of the ship’s arrival at Sihanoukville, Mr Tedros praised the Kingdom for MS Westerdam’s entry.

Mr Tedros said he had talked to Health Minister Mam Bun Heng and thanked him, especially Prime Minister Hun Sen for allowing MS Westerdam to dock in the Kingdom.

“This is an example of the international solidarity we have consistently been calling for,” he said. “Outbreaks can bring out the best and worst in people.”

“Stigmatizing individuals or entire nations does nothing but harm the response.” he added.

In an interview with Fresh News last night, Mr Hun Sen said that MS Westerdam was allowed entry in a bid to stamp out fear and discrimination.

“The real disease is fear, not the virus. We want to eliminate fear of the disease,” he said. “The Kingdom has no discrimination. We must do humanitarian affairs in time of emergency.”

US Ambassador to Cambodian Patrick Murphy also tweeted that US citizens are among passengers on the MS Westerdam.

“The ship reports no passengers tested positive with coronavirus; medical personnel on board are monitoring.” he said. “We greatly appreciate Cambodian assistance.”

Preah Sihanouk provincial police chhief Major General Chuon Narin said today that the government working group is aboard the ship to have medical checks on more than 2,200 passengers and crew.

He said officials suspected that 20 of the passengers may be infected with coronavirus and their specimens will be tested at the Pasteur Institute.

Provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun said that the 20 passengers are ill.

“They are in poor health such as stomachache,” he said. “They are not yet to be confirmed of having [Coronavirus].”

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