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Gov’t, WHO urge vigilance as first Omicron community case found

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Motorists wearing masks travel on the streets under a billboard advertising the preventive measures against Covid-19 in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district last year. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t, WHO urge vigilance as first Omicron community case found

Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) officials in Cambodia urge vigilance as the Kingdom’s first Omicron community case has been detected.

In a press release on January 9, the ministry said the man, a 23-year-old Cambodian from the capital’s Russey Keo district, tested positive with subsequent lab confirmation of the variant.

It said the man had visited his cousin at a hospital before testing positive for the variant. It noted that from December 27 to January 5, the man had travelled with his cousin – who arrived in Cambodia from Australia on December 27 – to various places including Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kampong Thom, Siem Reap and Kampot.

He visited the cousin at the hospital on January 5 and tested positive for the coronavirus later that day. His sample was then sent to the Pasteur Institut du Cambodge where it was confirmed as Omicron on January 8.

The man is currently being treated at the Covid-19 treatment facility at Olympic Stadium in the capital.

Health ministry spokesman Or Vandine said her ministry is tracking infections at the locations where the man travelled. Three of his relatives in Kampot province and two people Phnom Penh have had samples taken for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

“The ministry appeals to the public to strictly implement prevention measures, especially the ‘three dos and three donts’ and get vaccinated to prevent the spread of the virus further in our community,” she said.

Vandine urged all people to get vaccinated – from first dose through booster shots – according to their individual situation and eligibility.

The ministry stated that nearly 200 Omicron cases have been recorded in Cambodia, though all but one of the detected cases were imported and caught at points of entry.

WHO representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said the first case of Omicron found in the community in the Kingdom served as another vital reminder to all people to beef up their preventive measures and prepare for a possible surge of infections.

She said that successfully managing Cambodia’s Covid-19 risks would boil down to everyone’s individual choices and responsibilities.

“We know what works to manage Covid-19, including Omicron. Seven things in combination: getting fully vaccinated plus our three dos and three don’ts. Be vigilant and be ready for a surge! We can all act responsibly every day to contribute to a safe and sustainable reopening of Cambodia.

“We cannot totally avoid Omicron. It is so highly transmissible. Together, we can slow its community transmission and keep Covid-19 at a truly manageable level so that we can avoid the health care system getting overwhelmed and we can avoid lockdowns,” she tweeted on January 9.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said earlier that people who test positive for Omicron are not allowed to get home care as the variant can transmit very quickly. All of them must get treatment at designated treatment centres to avoid the risk of local transmission and backsliding in the effort to fight Covid-19, he said.

As of January 9, Cambodia had recorded a total of 120,621 Covid-19 cases with 3,015 fatalities.

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