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Hungarian Envoy’s Positive Covid-19 Test Shocks Thailand, Cambodia

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto leaves Bangkok via private jet Wednesday after testing positive for the coronavirus before meeting Thai officials.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto leaves Bangkok via private jet Wednesday after testing positive for the coronavirus before meeting Thai officials.

The plan was to meet with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha but Hungary’s foreign minister packed up and beat it out of Thailand on a private jet Wednesday after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Peter Szijjarto and his 12-member trade team were tested after arriving in Thailand Tuesday from Cambodia. Only Szijjarto tested positive, twice.

Szijjarto, 42, was sent to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases where he stayed until a private jet arrived from Hungary to take him home separate from his staff Wednesday evening.

Prayut never got close to Szijjarto. All scheduled meetings were canceled. But Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen wasn’t as lucky. They had a face-to-face maskless meeting and now Cambodia’s premier, his wife and 16 others are in self-isolation. A government spokesman said the entire group tested negative for Coviid-19, but that could change in coming days.

The Hungarian delegation was supposed to have a two-day visit in Thialand aimed at strengthening ties, especially in economic matters. The meeting with Prayut was simply to be a courtesy call with the real work done between Szijjarto and his Thai counterpart, Don Pramudwinai.

Hungarian news agency MTI said Szijjarto had tested negative before leaving last month for his Asian tour. Hun Sen’s government also claimed that the minister tested negative before leaving Phnom Penh. It’s only a 45-minute fight from there to Bangkok.

During his one-day stop in Cambodia Szijjarto opened a satellite office from Hungary’s embassy in neighboring Vietnam and signed economic-cooperation agreements covering water management, agriculture and air services.

While both Szijjarto and Hun Sen were photographed without wearing masks, other members of the Hungarian delegation did.