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China approves second shipment of Covid jabs

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A healthcare worker prepared a dose of the China’s Sinopharm vaccine at the National Paediatric Hospital last month. Hean Rangsey

China approves second shipment of Covid jabs

The Chinese government has agreed to provide an additional 400,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine for the second phase of Cambodia’s vaccination campaign. These doses are scheduled to arrive in Cambodia before the Khmer New Year in April.

This comes as the Ministry of Health recorded 15 more cases of Covid-19 on March 1, all but one of which were linked to the February 20 community transmission.

On February 7, the first batch of 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine donated by China was delivered to Cambodia. The government then launched the first Covid-19 vaccination campaign on February 10.

In a Facebook post on March 1, the Chinese embassy in Cambodia said: “To assist the Cambodian people – our brothers and sisters – in the fight against Covid-19, China has decided to provide a second grant of 400,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Cambodia.”

Minister of National Defence Tea Banh told local media on March 1 that the second phase of the Sinopharm vaccine aid would be arranged through his ministry and would arrive in Cambodia ahead of the traditional Khmer New Year.

“The [second shipment of] vaccines that China is providing to Cambodia is again the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.

World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Dr Li Ailan said on Twitter on March 1 that safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines are an important tool for ending the Covid-19 pandemic. Cambodia is currently responding to the pandemic with a combination of effective public health measures and an ongoing vaccination campaign.

“These vaccines help reduce [the incidence] of severe disease and hospitalisations, which saves lives,” she tweeted.

In addition to receiving more vaccines from China, Cambodia is also preparing to receive shipment of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine in an initial supply of 324,000 doses through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) mechanism.

The COVAX vaccines are scheduled to arrive in the evening of March 2 and will be ready for administration to people on March 4.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said he plans to take this vaccine because there are no age restrictions on its use as there are with the Sinopharm vaccine which is limited to those aged 18-59.

Regarding the new Covid-19 infections, the health ministry said in a press release on March 1 that the cluster cases include one Cambodian and 13 Chinese nationals, five of whom stayed in Preah Sihanouk province and are receiving treatment there.

These bring the country’s third community transmission cases to 316 in just over a week.

The only imported case is an Indonesian man who registered his address in Sampov Loun commune in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district and arrived from Indonesia via Singapore on February 26.

The man was travelling with 71 other passengers, all of whom tested negative and are being quarantined in the capital.

The latest cases bring the Kingdom’s total Covid-19 tally to 820, with 477 having recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

Separately, Battambang provincial governor Nguon Ratanak told The Post on March 1 that more than 3,000 migrant workers were still in quarantine in the border province.

He said authorities are still strengthening security because in Moung Russey district alone, they have found more than 100 illegal people-smugglers since mid-2020 who were taking money to help people avoid quarantine when crossing the border.

“We find a lot of them if we sum up. But in some districts, there maybe four to five people a day that get through the illegal crossing corridors. We have added more than 2,000 soldiers at the border,” he said.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Thailand’s Samut Sakhon province, the number of migrant workers from Thailand who have crossed the border into Cambodia via Battambang province has increased to nearly 10,000.

Of those, 6,000 have since completed quarantine and were allowed to go home while more than 3,500 people were still in quarantine centres. Battambang provincial authorities are preparing additional quarantine centres as more migrant workers continue to return from Thailand.

In a new development, the health ministry’s Communicable Disease Control Department (CDC) announced that one confirmed positive Covid-19 patient went to Makro Cambodia in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district from 5:41 to 6:48 pm on February 20.

It urged all people who have any symptoms such as a fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat or difficulty breathing and those who either went to Makro Cambodia or know anyone who went there that day to come forward for a Covid-19 test without delay.

For those who might have been exposed to Covid-19 but have not presented any symptoms, it advised them to monitor their health and consider get a Covid-19 test regardless if they were at Makro that day.

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