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AstraZeneca vaccine drive in capital starts

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The public vaccination campaign utilising AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine will begin on March 23 across Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

AstraZeneca vaccine drive in capital starts

The public vaccination campaign utilising AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine will begin on March 23 across the capital’s 14 districts and continue for 15 days with a goal of vaccinating more than 110,000 people aged 60 and over.

The urgency of the campaign – focused on vaccinating the elderly – was underscored by the death of a 75-year-old man due to Covid-19 on March 22.

Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng told The Post that the vaccination campaign for the elderly would begin at locations newly assigned by the municipal hall in the districts, along with seven referral hospitals.

According to planning documents, vaccination with AstraZeneca’s jab – marketed as Covishield – will be administered on a voluntary basis. There will be two shifts – morning and afternoon – with at least 3,380 people expected to be inoculated in each of the 14 districts per day.

“The number of elderly people we have listed in our records is 132,061 in the municipal area. Some of them have already received vaccination, leaving 119,310 people that we need to vaccinate in this campaign,” Sreng said.

The municipal hall has received 55,000 doses for vaccinating the elderly following the Ministry of Health’s plans for the campaign. The ministry has already made preparations for vaccinating more people once Cambodia receives additional jabs.

On March 22, the ministry recorded the fourth death from Covid-19 after a 75-year-old man died while undergoing treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh, just hours after it reported 71 new cases linked to the February 20 community outbreak.

The man ­– identified as a retired physician and former head of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia’s sports medicine and science committee residing in Kakab commune of the capital’s Por Sen Chey district – was admitted to the hospital on the morning of March 21 and later tested positive for Covid-19.

“He suffered from severe fatigue and breathing difficulties, which turned critical three or four days before being hospitalised,” the ministry said in a press release, noting that the man had had pre-existing medical conditions including high blood pressure.

Doctors scanned his lungs and found that he had severe pneumonia in both of them and concluded they were on the verge of organ failure. The medical team tried to save his life by putting him on a ventilator but to no avail.

Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said: “This happened to a professional doctor who had medical expertise, though he was retired. This shows that Covid-19 is a dangerous disease.”

Vandine reiterated the call for the public to follow health measures to protect themselves from the virus.

“This Covid-19 variant is a new [mutation] of the virus that is potentially more aggressive and doctors’ rescue efforts have not always been successful. Therefore, it is important that everyone participates in the campaign to stop the spread of Covid-19,” she said.

Vandine noted that there were currently many other patients hospitalised in serious condition whom the medical teams are trying to save.

As of March 22, Cambodia had recorded a total of 1,753 Covid-19 cases, with 781 remaining hospitalised.

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