Prime Minister Hun Sen recalled how concerted efforts and pre-emptive measures helped the government bring Covid-19 under control and eventually reopen the country, noting the Kingdom’s post-pandemic economic recovery from a contraction of 3.1 per cent in 2020.

While addressing a graduation ceremony for almost 2,000 students from the Institute of New Khmer Generation on March 6, Hun Sen said one of the keys to the government’s success was the rapid, comprehensive roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines. He compared the swift and efficient inoculation campaign as akin to making sure the Kingdom bathed with the vaccines.

“It was the rapid distribution of the vaccines that enabled us to reopen the country’s socio-economic activities in the way that we all enjoy today.

“This was nothing more than a concerted effort to protect the lives of our citizens and indeed, any other guest of the Kingdom. Naturally, we are filled with regret at the 3,056 lives that were lost in such a short period of time, but we have to be aware that the death toll was much higher in many countries of comparable size,” he continued.

He also recalled the preparations for additional deaths, which thankfully were averted by the quick reaction of the Kingdom’s leadership.

“We had hardened our hearts and prepared for the worst – ordering coffins and making plans to extend cemeteries. Some opposition groups even suggested we had contempt for human life. I am pleased that the additional facilities were not required, but also shocked that such serious preparations were used to score political points,” he said.

“I urge people across the country to pay attention to health issues. The world is changing, and there is no way of knowing what diseases may emerge next. The Kingdom was able to defeat Covid-19, and I am confident that if we work together, we will overcome any future challenges we face,” added Hun Sen.

According to the Ministry of Health, Cambodia had recorded a total of 138,719 Covid-19 cases, with 135,658 recoveries and 3,056 deaths as of March 6.

Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine, who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, recently reassured the public that Cambodia has enough vaccines in stock for everyone living in the Kingdom. All of the vaccines used by the ministry are recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), and will be administered free of charge, regardless of race or political tendencies.

“While we have an adequate vaccine supply and have done very well to control infections, it is important that we remain vigilant and continue to follow preventive measures,” she said.

“It is also crucial that people make sure their vaccinations are up to date. The ministry recommends a booster dose four to six months after your previous jab,” she added.