Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Hun Sen says the real disease is fear, not coronavirus

Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks about Corona virus at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. Camboja

The real disease in Cambodia is fear — not coronavirus, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters at the Peace Palace, Hun Sen said that Cambodian people should not be afraid of coronavirus because no Cambodians had been infected and no one had died from it in Cambodia.

The lone confirmed case of the virus is a Chinese man who traveled to Cambodia from Wuhan city, where the disease was first detected.

“Our disease in Cambodia is the disease of fear. It is not caused by coronavirus, which occurred in China,” Hun Sen said. “Please don’t have fear over what isn’t true, because it causes job losses.”

On Monday, Health Ministry said that Jia Jiahuan, 60, had tested positive for coronavirus in Preah Sihanouk province. Jia and three family members arrived to Cambodia from Wuhan on Jan. 23, before flights out of the city were banned.

Hun Sen said that Cambodians needed to be aware of all diseases, not just coronavirus, giving the example of the common flu as another contagious illness.

However, Hun Sen continued that if anyone suspected that they had coronavirus, they must report to a hospital for treatment.

He added that media and the public should primarily report information from the Health Ministry, as false information about the virus had been spreading around social media.

He warned that in Malaysia, three journalists had been arrested for disseminating “fake news” about the virus.

According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus, which began in China, has spread to 16 countries in total. Some 6,065 cases have been confirmed and 132 people have died, it says.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said Jia remained the only confirmed case in Cambodia, and his recovery was progressing.

None of the 70 passengers on his flight to Cambodia had shown symptoms of coronavirus, and most had now returned to China, she added.