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Health ministry, WHO Cambodia all set for Omicron variant Q&A

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WHO Representative to Cambodia Li Ailan (centre left) and health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine during a field visit to Kampong Thom province in June. SUPPLIED

Health ministry, WHO Cambodia all set for Omicron variant Q&A

The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia will hold a joint press conference on December 9 to update the Kingdom on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variant Omicron. The WHO is already reporting the presence of the new variant in countries around the world.

In a notice on December 7, the ministry said the informational question and answer session will be held in the presence of ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine and WHO representative to Cambodia Li Ailan.

Meanwhile, health minister Mam Bun Heng reminded people to maintain the preventive measures and practise the three dos and three don’ts guidelines including wearing masks, frequently washing hands and keeping a safe distance of at least 1.5m from others.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 6 called on all Cambodian people to once again unite against Covid-19 so that there will be no opportunities for sneering from other countries.

“We have to strive together to prevent Covid from emerging so that no one can look down on us. We will make every effort to treat people, protect our people from getting infected – not just with Covid, but also other diseases. We have to strengthen Cambodia’s health sector to meet the needs of our people,” he said.

The WHO in Cambodia issued a statement in late November saying the Omicron variant was concerning and may complicate the global response to the pandemic. This variant has a large number of mutations and some of them may have made it more transmissible and able to evade immune system and vaccine protections.

The statement said preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with this variant. Omicron is also suspected to be more contagious than previous strains. However, some anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be less deadly than previous variants like Delta, but getting definitive answers to these questions will take a matter of two to three weeks at minimum.

“We do not know the effectiveness of vaccines against this new mutation. Researchers are examining the effects of the new mutation now. Scientists are also working to find out more about the mutations and the effects of the new virus to see how virulent it is and how fast it spreads,” the WHO said.

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