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Covid-19 variants cause of concern: health ministry

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Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said in a press conference in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Heng Chivoan

Covid-19 variants cause of concern: health ministry

A total of 122 cases of the UK and Indian Covid-19 variants have been detected in Cambodia, according to Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine.

Therefore, she said, the situation in Cambodia is now different than it was last year because the variant mutations are more virulent and spread quickly. They are also reportedly more deadly than the original virus.

She noted that from February 14 to May 9, Cambodia had detected 121 cases of the UK variant – also known as SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7. The UK variants were originally detected just five days before the February 20 community outbreak.

On April 25, the highly transmissible Indian variant B.1.617 was detected on a passenger inbound to Cambodia.

When the 20 February outbreak began, the situation escalated and the ministry was worried and suspected that the new situation was triggered by the new variants, she said.

“Through laboratory testing we have confirmed that the variant B.1.1.7 is in Cambodia. But only one case of B.1.617 has been discovered and it was imported. Now the patient has recovered. The Indian variant has not yet spread in Cambodia, only the B.1.1.7 variant currently,” she said.

Citing the World Health Health Organisation, Vandine said that up to 70 new variants had been detected from April 27 to May 4 around the world.

“This new variant presents a difficulty for us all. We must not let our guard down,” she said.

Separately, the ministry on May 12 reported 472 more Covid-19 cases – all but three of which were linked to the February 20 outbreak – 369 recoveries and five more deaths.

“To tell you the truth there’s no reason to be happy yet. Do not forget that whenever the number of daily infections appears to decrease, what we really have to watch for is whether the overall number of infections for May is less than that for April.

“If the number of cases in May has not decreased and is higher than that in April, then the outbreak in Cambodia has not subsided. The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia is still of great concern,” Vandine said.

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