February 4, 2020 / 8:53 AM / 14 days ago

Cambodian PM says he will visit students in China's Wuhan for moral support

FILE PHOTO: Cambodian Prime Minster Hun Sen arrives at a celebration marking the 41st anniversary of the fall of Khmer Rouge regime in Phnom Penh, Cambodia January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES NO ARCHIVES

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Tuesday he will visit Cambodian students in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of an outbreak of a new coronavirus, to give them moral support following criticism of his decision not to repatriate them.

The outbreak has killed more than 420 people, most of them in the central Chinese province of Hubei, of which Wuhan is capital, and many countries have been sending aircraft to bring their citizens out and cutting travel links with China.

Hun Sen, a close ally of China, said he would fly there on Wednesday from South Korea, where he is attending a summit, and that he had informed Chinese authorities of his trip.

He said in a post on his Facebook page he would visit the students to “to show them warmth and to make sure they are not scared of the new type of infectious coronavirus”.

Cambodia, which has a large community of expatriate Chinese people, reported its single case of the virus last week, a Chinese man who came with his family from Wuhan to the coastal city of Sihanoukville last month.

Last week, Hun Sen said the coronavirus was under control in Cambodia despite public fears.

He also said Cambodia would allow flights from China and would not evacuate Cambodian students and diplomats, sparking public criticism that he was not doing enough to help them.

Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Robert Birsel

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