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Covid-19 pandemic far from over, health ministry warns

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A Covid-19 banner in Chak Angre Krom commune of Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Monday. Hong Menea

Covid-19 pandemic far from over, health ministry warns

Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has advised authorities throughout the country to launch a public awareness campaign about the ongoing risks of Covid-19 and adapting to the “new normal” lifestyle as the ministry believes that complacency about the virus has set in with the Cambodian public.

Bun Heng issued guidelines on July 26 calling on the authorities in the capital and all of the 24 provinces to pay greater attention to Covid-19 and to launch a campaign to educate people on the risks it still poses to the public.

He said large-scale transmission of Covid-19 was still occurring in Cambodia’s communities and that it will be disastrous for the health system, claim people’s lives and have severe consequences for society and the national economy.

“The arrival of the Delta variant – which can spread more rapidly and cause more severe illness – requires our greatest efforts at this stage to break the chains of Covid-19 transmission and prevent it from reaching our communities.

“All capital and provincial governors have to prepare to post educational messages in all target villages. The authorities have to continue to cooperate with relevant partners and civil society organisations to print and distribute health education materials widely in the capital and provinces,” he said.

The minister urged sub-national authorities to widely disseminate the health education messages that the health ministry published on Youtube.

“The authorities have to disseminate the educational messages through loudspeakers, posters in public places and and by distributing leaflets to the public,” he said.

The authorities must also air the messages on TV and radio and spread it on social media, especially to vulnerable and poor communities.

“[The information] should be disseminated regularly at this time to remind the public of the risk that this disease can break out at any time,” he added.

The minister urged the provincial governors take action and temporarily shut down any business locations that fail to follow the ministry’s safety guidelines.

He said that authorities have to monitor the implementation of preventive measures in their communities and ensure that social distancing is being practiced in public places and they should continue to prohibit people from getting together in large numbers.

Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kouch Chamroeun had already begun a similar campaign prior to receiving the directive.

On July 22, he assigned officials to work with the Cambodian Red Cross in the provinces and to launch a campaign aimed to strengthen disease prevention and promote a change of lifestyle to more hygienic habits.

World Health Organisation representative in Cambodia Li Ailan said on July 24 that there were five factors making the Covid-19 fight difficult for the Kingdom.

She said the reasons were the new variants with higher transmissibility, invisible community transmission, pandemic fatigue and complacency, low compliance with preventive measures and vaccine-related optimism.

“[I am] grateful to those who have been making greater efforts in implementing public health and social measures including the 3 Dos and 3 Don’ts,” she tweeted.

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