A War against Covid-19 – Long-term and Strategic
Today I have the need to deliver a message to our people and to give the press a chance to ask me questions about what are we going to do next. As you know, we are in the stage of waging war against Covid-19 pandemic. As of this moment, we are fighting a war that we have no chance yet to launch offensive because we could not see where our enemy was […] there would only be loss and no profit. The only chance we would have was to suffer big or small losses […]
We must frame this war against Covid-19 long-term and strategic because we are seeing no sign that it has subsided yet, while the world has not yet found specific medicine to prevent or treat coronavirus disease […] we therefore must frame this this fight in a strategic and long-term war – not weeks or month. We have no way of knowing yet how long it will last […] we have noticed among our people that they are quick to fear but also to forget about it. It could be because they have seen that there are not many infected cases in Cambodia in addition to many have recovered from it. That has prompted me to rethink on a number of scenarios, including those initiatives suggested to me by the Commission to Fight against Covid-19 on what we need to do for the time to come […]
Not Richer or Poorer but Which Countries Have More or Less Deaths
(There have been comments about how ineffective and worrying the Cambodian health system was.) My response was that good governance would reveal at this time. Some countries have neglected their efforts causing many people to have infection and died. Rich or poor is no longer an indication (of governance) because more died in rich countries and less in poorer ones […] that would be my recommendation to World Health Organization in its effort to assess public health systems […]
It has been annoying to see articles written by some commentators or press people who lack knowledge about and respect for poorer countries, while in their own, a big number of death recorded. A Cambodian died abroad (from Covid-19). My condolence to the death. People living abroad are in fear. Some wanted to return and live in Cambodia as they saw we had less number of infection. I beg them to stay wherever they are right now and abide by the rule set by countries they are living in […]
This morning I have made an uneasy decision but I have no other choices […] I am asking for understanding from the 150 Cambodians who were to take a flight home from Malaysia this morning […] I contacted the source and asked them to stop the plan […] Everyone must stay wherever they are […]. Some may ask why we did not let them come back this time […] we are now in the stage of preventing imported cases infection […]
Taking this moment, I am appealing to our troops abroad – Central African Republic, Lebanon, Sudan, and South Sudan to take extra precautionary measures. Those in charge of peacekeeping troops must follow them up and file reports on regular basis about care provided by the United Nations to them […] it is in the responsibility of the United Nations but we have our military officers in commanding staff of the peacekeeping force. We are the country that sends the troop under the UN flagship. We must take responsibility on this matter too. While the troops could not talk to the UN, the Royal Government could communicate to the UN Secretary General on such matter.
Fighting Three Battles
Let me compare this fight against Covid-19 in military terms. We are fighting currently in three battles at once. Firstly, we are fighting against imported cases. As you can see that nearly all of the 115 infections so far have imported cases […] it is in continuing this effort that I issued order to stop, for the time being, return of the 150 Cambodians from Malaysia. Should we let them return, we would have to quarantine them at the former Intercontinental Hotel. That would also cause more works for already-busy medical staff.
That they have been staying safe in Malaysia, they must stay on for a while. We are thinking of them but I am asking them to understand the people’s difficulties in the country too. The Royal Government has had major concern about the more than 60,000 Cambodians returning from Thailand. However, we have done a good job. The returnees themselves, their families, and communities are heeding advices for their health […]
I hope that our people, who have been staying in Thailand legally for jobs, will not return for the Khmer New Year. However, those who have been in Thailand illegally might try to sneak through unregistered border passes […] I have decided to go with the fourth options suggested to me by the Commission to Fight against Covid-19 and that was to allow return with inspection and transport them to their villages, where they would be under surveillance and control of local authority.
Secondly, we are preventing transmission from the infected to other people. We already have taken measures and fulfilled this already. We must continue with what we have been doing. We have introduced school break early. Probably, situation would not allow us to resume schooling after the celebration of Khmer New Year […]. We called on our people to avoid organizing ceremonies that would bring in many people […] there is no plan to close down pagodas, churches and/or mosques. However, we are asking them to exercise social distancing measures […] we closed down nightclubs, Karaoke and concerts in public but we allow closed door (without spectators on spot) concerts and boxing show […] in Thailand, it has been discovered that infection stemmed from there.
The best measure still is to educate and to raise awareness among our people to self-protection. It is now the time for our people to change their behaviors to practice more sanitation and hygiene […] I am grateful to the media of all sorts for taking parts in such efforts. However, there are some spreading fake and misleading news […] and frankly speaking, the authorities are after them […] our strong point so far has been correct assessment leading to quick reaction.
We have what they called small cluster transmission […] for instance, in the case of a Cambodian infected with coronavirus from a Japanese man we quickly got to him and those in his contacts […] should we fail to take quick responsive measures, this small cluster outbreak would expand to a community transmission level […]. We have had two cases of cluster infections – firstly, with this young man in Siem Reap, and secondly, Cambodians returning from religious rites in Malaysia […] we ramped them up and they responded well on voluntary bases (to place themselves in quarantine). Only ten left among those infected from this cluster.
We are not seeing large cluster or community infection yet. The Royal Government has no plan to close down factories, markets, shops, restaurants, etc. However, the Royal Government decided to cancel the Khmer New Year holiday […] suggested to me by the Commission to Fight against Covid-19 on 30 March, the day I briefed the press at the National Assembly, there were two options. Firstly, to cancel Khmer New Year holiday and secondly to continue with the holiday but there must be a number of measures.
I did not reveal to the press my decision then. Initially, I decided to go with the second option. However, I changed my mind to go with the first option – to cancel the Khmer New Year holiday. State and private institutions are working as normal. We will think of making up at a later stage with a five workday holiday […] should we allow people to travel far and wide during the Khmer New Year, we would be putting ourselves in a high risk.
I hope our people see this as one difficult situation that we must take as a nation […] people practice our tradition of welcoming angel […] if Covid-19 subsides anytime by July, for instance, with the Khmer Buddhist holiday of Phchum Ben in September or October, we may celebrate a longer holiday – eight days altogether. If Covid-19 persists, we may have to wait because we will not allow crowded mobility […]
Thirdly, we are fighting to offer effective treatment and recoveries. We have been doing a good job. A group of people, as far as I know, expressed their wish to write a letter to the World Health Organization demanding Cambodia revealing how to go about successfully treating patients of Covid-19 […] my response has been it is for the World Health Organization to tell them […]
Stocks of Medical Supplies/Tools
I wish to reiterate our preparation for this fight. So far, we have taken some effective measures. We have more than 3,000 rooms ready for quarantine and/or treatment. We have our medical staff running on the clock. That includes also medical volunteers who have had their training already […] we are now working on having two stocks of medical supplies. Firstly, the stock of the Ministry of Health, which is responding to daily operation of hospitals. We are having now another one. (The second) stock belongs to the Royal Government. Some of the medical supplies I ordered already arrived. Some more would be soon. The Ministry of Health will take care of this stock. They can use it anytime by asking for my permission […]
As for alcohol, the Ministry of Health is to sign an agreement with SKD Brewery (Société des Khmere Distilleries) as it can distill 15,000 liters of 95% alcohol per day and it can convert this amount to 19,000 liters of 75% medical alcohol. We would receive, according to the agreement, somewhere between 5,000 to 8,000 liters (of 75% medical alcohol) per day. MX Bio-Energy has in stock 90,000 liters of alcohol 95%, convertible to 1,170,000 liters of 75% medical alcohol/disinfectant. We buy from it and let them keep it for us […] besides we also have to increase working capacity to produce oxygen […] and I have ordered more ventilators in addition to those we have in use […]
Concerning rice/paddy, salt, and fish, we have issued order for the state company Green Trade and some private companies to store them for any immediate need by the state. I am calling our people, especially those in Kampot province, to continue to produce more salt as rain has not yet come […]. We also ban exporting drinking water. People may resort to growing vegetables for local markets at this time of uncertainty […] poultry is also a good job to go for […] impacts on Industry and Tourism would be harsh but it would not be the same for agriculture.
The Ministry of Agriculture must provide people with seeds and help in growing them. Growth in agriculture had been low so far, while growths in industry and service had been high. In the forthcoming time, growth in industry and service would lower and in agriculture to take the uptrend. We can see it even from now […]
RGC Exercised Cuts of Expenses
On another point, I am seeking understanding from national and sub-national institutions that the Royal Government has had to exercise cut on expenses two times. Firstly, we saved back 444 million USD. Yesterday, for the second time, based on suggestion from Deputy Prime Minister Aun Pornmoniroth – Minister of Economy and Finance, I ordered another cut of 475 million USD. From the two cuts, we have saved 918 million USD […] we are taking back some earmarked fund, even those for the communes. Roads/water canals projects, however, would go on untouched […]
One final point, I am calling on private sectors to exercise understanding for each other. As I said at the National Assembly on 30 March, some may have hired shops or buildings for business operations. As the business is in mode of making loss, rentees would not be able to pay what they have agreed to. I am asking them to reconsider working out their deals. Renters should think of lowering their rent fees. It is a matter between private business entities. There should not be measures to end contracts or to confiscate houses/lands in the time of Covid-19.
Banks have also taken so many measures to help but I am calling on them to do more. They may reschedule payment and/or exercise no fine for inability to pay interest. It is not an order. It is an appeal of the Royal Government to the private sector. However, some, who have had no impacts from the crisis, may use Covid-19 as a pretext to go free from his/her debts […]
Law on State of Emergency
I am asking HE Pich Sros (a leader of a political party) not to talk too much […] as he had twisted my words in his live show […] measures taken has come from me and not from you in the Supreme Council for Consultation and Recommendation. As the executive power, the Royal Government takes highest responsibilities […] he should refrain from interpretation for political gains. He even misinterpreted original concepts […]. Some hate communists but ask for the state to fix prices, interest rates, etc. They wanted the Prime Minister to act the communist way.
Some said that it is not time yet for a state of emergency. I am quite aware of it. However, what would I do when I had no law to enforce it? […] when things go out of control, it must be possible to place a country general and/or particle state of emergency. Japan is to declare today its state of emergency. They have planned to place Tokyo and six prefectures under state of emergency. There would not need for me, for concern of economic performance, to declare state of emergency, unless it is necessary […]
A foreign radio broadcast comments of some, who acted as if s/he is the United States of America, that the Royal Government should introduce rescue package. Have you not noticed? The National Assembly already adopted the law and the Royal Government has the power to exercise cuts on expenses […] we do not have to go back to the National Assembly. We go to the National Assembly to discuss law on state of emergency. We are not going to declare it right after approval […]
I hope that our people understand and approve what the Royal Government has suggested, especially to cancel the Khmer New Year holiday. Just to reiterate and clarify, people celebrate welcoming New Year at home. They should be careful with incents burning as well. TV stations will broadcast arrival of New Year according to lunar calendar at 8pm (of April 13) […] while observing the Khmer New Year, companies, banks, ministries, etc. will continue it daily business normally. We do not take holiday. As for farmers, it would be up to them […]./.