PM mulls state of emergency as virus cases rise to 96


The Ministry of Health on Wednesday confirmed five more cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 96.

Two of the five infected persons are French tourists visiting Sihanoukville. The pair, aged 60 and 64, are among the more than 30 French nationals and their two Cambodian tour guides who were quarantined at a hotel in the coastal town after their testing proved positive. All are being treated at the hotel itself.

In Phnom Penh, a 27-year-old Cambodian man also tested positive for Covid-19. He is being treated at the Chak Angre Krom Health Centre in Meanchey district. The ministry said his girlfriend tested negative.

In Kandal province, a 59-year-old man contracted the virus after coming into direct contact with a 60-year-old Muslim who recently returned from a religious gathering in Malaysia. He is being treated at the provincial hospital.

In Siem Reap province, a 37-year-old man tested positive and is being treated at the provincial hospital. He was the driver for the French tourists who also tested positive after travelling to Sihanoukville from Siem Reap.

Six of 10 people from Battambang province who had also been in direct contact with the same French tourists tested negative, while the other four are awaiting test results as of press time.

In light of the growing number of Covid-19 cases recorded in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has told a legal team to study the scope of Article 22 of the Constitution in regards to declaring a state of emergency, if his appeals to the public measures to contain the disease are not effective.

“I am looking at the possibility in Article 22 of the Constitution to request the King to declare a state of emergency. I don’t want to use it, but if my appeal [to the people] is ineffective, Article 22 of the Constitution will be used,” he said.

He said he is considering calling for a state of emergency partly because his appeal not to increase to the price of face masks had been ineffective.

“This is our shortcoming because we did not imagine the possibility of declaring a state of emergency. If it is applied, civil right will be reduced. Some countries applied this measure and used soldiers and police to enforce the law.

“But for us, we can talk, although I don’t deny the possibility of using Article 22 of the Constitution,” he said.

The prime minister warned that the measure should not be considered as persecution against the people, but instead as “a strict way to prevent death”.