KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Cambodia wants Malaysia to apologise for saying that a cruise passenger tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which Cambodia disputed, and was later cleared of Covid-19.
“Malaysia has to be responsible for the problems they have caused for the passengers of the Westerdam and the damage done to Cambodia’s reputation,” Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reportedly said on Monday.
News portal The Cambodianess quoted Hun Sen as saying that Malaysia’s announcement of the positive test results “placed a burden on Cambodia”, “takes away our honour” and affects “Cambodia’s nobility”.
“Some people think that the case is simple, but Cambodians don’t think it is so simple,” he explained. “Now people are discriminating against our country, and also against those people who were onboard the ship.”
In a separate statement, Cambodia’s Health Ministry reportedly said “the irregularity of the testing results by Malaysian authorities made all passengers on the Westerdam cruise ship scared and confused”.
Malaysian officials over the weekend announced that an 83-year-old American woman has since twice tested negative for Covid-19 after being treated in Malaysia.
Upon arriving in Malaysia, though, she tested positive for the coronavirus twice, according to a February 15 Ministry of Health statement, but after 72 hours of treatment, tested negative.
Cambodia said she was originally cleared of Covid-19 after the Holland America vessel docked at Sihanoukville port in Cambodia last week, following the government’s decision to allow the ship to enter the port on humanitarian grounds.
In an immediate response, Hun Sen said justice has been served to Cambodia and all 1,455 passengers and 802 crew members onboard the ship, according to the South China Morning Post.
He reiterated that no viral infections have been found among passengers and crew on board the vessel, which was to dock in Japan earlier this month but was denied entry by Tokyo on suspicion that one of the passengers may be infected.
Hun Sen also expressed shock that Malaysia was able to “cure” the 83-year-old woman of the virus in just 72 hours, quipping “if she is healed, the world should be learning from Malaysia, as just a 72-hour treatment is amazing.
“It’s a miracle of Malaysian medicine,” he added.
Hun Sen further called for the removal of then-Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad, claiming that Dzulkefly’s “carelessness” had serious negative impacts on Cambodia.
Dzulkefly, however, is no longer a minister after Malaysia’s Cabinet was dissolved following Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s shock resignation yesterday.
According to then-Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the US woman is still being kept at Sungai Buloh Hospital due to ongoing symptoms.
Twenty-two patients with Covid-19 in the country have since recovered, with only two more patients that have tested positive left to recover. Thousands of cases and deaths have been reported worldwide, but it seems Malaysia is one of the few countries that is able to contain the spread of the virus and treat patients.
Cambodia, meanwhile, has slammed the media coverage on its decision to allow the Westerdam to dock, saying it did this out of “sheer compassion” and based on “solid medical and scientific prudence.”