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Asia-Pacific WHO chief lauds Covid endeavours

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Prime Minister Hun Sen meets with WHO Regional Director for Western Pacific Takeshi Kasai at Pace Palace on June 30. SPM

Asia-Pacific WHO chief lauds Covid endeavours

A senior World Health Organisation (WHO) official lauded the “outstanding” achievements of the Cambodian government in leading the fight against Covid-19 and praised the efforts the Kingdom’s health authorities and people as a whole.

Takeshi Kasai, WHO Regional Director for Western Pacific, extended his congratulations during a courtesy call and discussion with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on June 30.

“Cambodia is a regional and global role model for its vaccination roll-out. Its monitoring, analysis and response to the pandemic has also been exceptional, and it has shared its experiences with other countries,” Kasai was quoted as saying in a social media post by the premier after the meeting.

Hun Sen thanked Kasai for honouring Cambodia’s progress in its Covid-19 battle and shared his experience of using the “blossom” approach to vaccinate the public.

“Cambodia is encouraging its people to get booster jabs, because the basic dose alone is not enough to prevent another outbreak,” he said.

Separately, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng called on people to remain vigilant and urged all provincial leaders to roll out booster shots as soon as possible, especially as community transmission had returned to the Kingdom and in the face of new sub-variants.

Bun Heng, also head of the Inter-ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19, said on June 29 that all municipal and provincial governors need to find those whose vaccinations were not up to date.

“The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron is more easily transmitted than the original, and can be more deadly than Delta. This is a concern, especially as more and more people are travelling internationally,” he said.

“The antibodies obtained from vaccines may decrease after three months, meaning they will be less able to protect the individual against infection. The immunity of the elderly and people with other illnesses also declines faster. Currently, just 59 per cent of the population has received their third shot,” he added.

He also instructed border authorities to strictly adhere to the health measures in place.

Khlok Huot, director of the Oddar Meanchey provincial health department, said all 37 health centres, one district and one provincial hospital were administering vaccines daily, and that teams of medical staff were also conducting mobile vaccination operations.

“The number of vaccinations being administered remains similar to before the re-emergence of the coronavirus in the community, so perhaps some people are unaware it has returned,” he said.

On June 28-29, Cambodia reported 17 Covid-19 cases, 15 of them in the community.

Meanwhile, health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine, who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, refuted allegations that authorities were using expired vaccines.

“These are false accusations. Our team monitors our vaccine stocks closely, and we have always utilised our vaccine supplies before they expire,” she said.

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