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Hun Sen wary of new variants past Omicron

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A woman receives her Covid-19 booster vaccination in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district. Hong Menea

Hun Sen wary of new variants past Omicron

Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his concerns about the ability of the coronavirus to mutate into new strains other than Omicron, and urged the relevant institutions to monitor its mutation.

Speaking on March 28 at the inauguration of the ear, nose and throat centre at Preah Ang Duong Hospital in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said: “We have to keep an eye on the mutation of this virus – both globally and in the region around us. Infection figures in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are on the rise, even as ours are declining.”

He also called for close monitoring of workers returning from Thailand. Currently, the unvaccinated among them must be quarantined for 14 days – with more than 1,000 being placed in isolation so far.

He added that while the spread of the virus had been on the decline of late, the virus was still being transmitted indiscriminately. The number of infected people who were currently in intensive care stood at just over 40, he said, adding that there were just a few hundred more that were experiencing mild symptoms.

“I commend the Ministry of Health and health professionals across the Kingdom for the fantastic work they have done over the past two years to overcome the challenges of the pandemic,” he said.

He recalled that this time last year was a difficult one, following the Kingdom’s third outbreak – dubbed the “February 20 community event”. That dreadful time saw many people perish and soaring infections.

“We never left any of our people to die without treatment, and not a single person lay ill on the streets,” he said.

He said 600 patients who experience mild symptoms are being treated in hospitals while 44 people are currently in specialised intensive care wards.

“Objectively comparing last year’s situation with current conditions is difficult, because the virus does not discriminate. Although we have achieved herd immunity through our excellent vaccination rates – now at over 92 per cent – community transmission can still take place,” he added.

He said that during this year’s upcoming Khmer New Year, the public will have their first chance to travel and celebrate it for two years. He renewed his calls for them to protect themselves against the virus by practicing the three dos and don’ts

“Construction of this remarkable hospital – that can accommodate more than 10,000 patients – is still underway. When we have defeated Covid, the facility will become a regular hospital. It is fully equipped with operating theatres and a maternity ward, along with the latest medical equipment,” he added.

Hun Sen also expressed his frustration at the latest fake news which claimed that that those who received Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines will develop cancer.

“I can’t believe there are still people who spread this nonsense. The vaccines have already been given to millions of people around the world. More than 14 million Cambodians have been inoculated with them,” he said.

Or Vandine, health ministry spokeswoman and head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, said whoever was circulating the fake news was making a terrible mistake and could endanger public health specifically and society in general.

“Those who created these fabricated words do not understand science, although I fear they have a different purpose. They will applaud if there is a recurrence of infections caused by people’s antibodies not being boosted against Covid-19,” she said.

The health ministry said Cambodia will have received nearly 50 million vaccines by the end of September. The Kingdom has so far received more than 43 million doses, through purchases, donations and bilateral agreements.

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