As Cambodia braces for a cold snap expected to last through early January, the Ministry of Health on Sunday evening urged citizens to take precautions against common winter maladies.
In a joint statement with the World Health Organization (WHO), the ministry warned that the Kingdom is approaching prime time for colds, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses.
“Babies, children, and the elderly are highly vulnerable to diseases that are the result of the cold climate,” the statement reads. It added that elderly people suffering from illnesses such as diabetes are particularly at risk.
The statement added that to fight off common winter ailments, citizens should wrap up warm but avoid tight clothing that will slow blood circulation.
It said that to prevent the spreading of illnesses, people should avoid direct contact with those who are sick and seek medical assistance if experiencing any symptoms of their own.
The joint statement was released following an announcement from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology that a cold spell will begin today, which will see temperatures drop to as low as 13 degrees Celsius in mountainous areas and 22 degrees elsewhere.
Ly Sovann, director of the Health Ministry’s Department of Communicable Disease Control, said that the government would closely monitor the spread of seasonal illnesses, adding that tens of thousands of Cambodians contracted respiratory illnesses during last year’s cold spell.
But, he said, common “winter” diseases were not the only concern.
Between December and April, he said, the Kingdom sees a high number of cases of bird flu.
“Since it is the time when there are many weddings and other ceremonies, we have to be careful when we have contact with birds such as chickens and ducks and do not touch sick or dead birds,” he said. “You need to report immediately to a health center if you suspect you have bird flu”.
So far this year, there have been nine reported cases of bird flu and four deaths, Sovann said.