The Ministry of Health announced the results of its Covid-19 testing on more than 40 high-ranking government officials who accompanied Prime Minister Hun Sen to the G20 summit in Indonesia, confirming that all but the premier tested negative.
The premier’s health remained normal and his case asymptomatic, but he was concerned about the health of the other leaders and people he might come into contact with at the recent ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh.
Ministry secretary of state Youk Sambath said the results were confirmed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
Upon his arrival to Cambodia on the evening of November 15, Hun Sen headed straight to his residence in Kandal province’s Takhmao town, just outside the capital, where he stated in a special audio address that he decided to return with all members of his delegation out of concern for the health of other G20 Summit attendees.
“That Covid-19 infected me at an inconvenient time is a very small issue. It worried me the most to think that other leaders who were in Cambodia [for the ASEAN Summit] and left to attend the meetings in Indonesia and then return to their countries could also be infected. That is my biggest concern.
“Almost half of the leaders who were attending the summit in Bali, Indonesia, arrived there straight from Cambodia, including Indonesian President [Joko Widodo] who is taking over as chair of ASEAN and was always near me during our [ASEAN] summit. There are some other leaders who also had close contact with me such as US President [Joe Biden].
“My biggest concern is for the health of the leaders of the countries and international organisations that came to the meetings in Cambodia, so they could find out if they were infected with Covid. But all of the testing did not find any other leaders positive for Covid-19 coming from Cambodia.
“So, I think that my Covid-19 infection may have been caused by exhaustion during the course of the summit. Last week, I worked … up to 15 hours a day so I think the fatigue must have given Covid a chance to attack me,” he said.
He added that he would follow his doctor’s advice regarding any Covid-19 treatment, noting that his health was normal and that he would self-quarantine at home and refrain from meeting anyone in person.
King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk on November 15 sent a “get well soon” message wishing Hun Sen a speedy recovery after they heard news of the situation.
Hun Sen also brushed off claims by unnamed critics that the infection may have been caused intentionally by the leaders of some other countries who intended to bar him from the G20 summit in Bali and the APEC Leaders’ Informal Dialogue scheduled to be held in Thailand later this week.
“I don’t want any suspicions that could cause confusion. G20 host Indonesia wanted the attendance of the ASEAN chair and APEC host Thailand also wants me to be present there,” he said.
Hun Sen said he was slated to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron in Bangkok during the APEC summit, but those meetings are now put off in light of his situation.