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Kingdom No2 in Covid recovery

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People get Pfizer vaccine for their fourth vaccination at a vaccination centre in Chroy Changvar district on January 16. Hong Menea

Kingdom No2 in Covid recovery

The Covid-19 Recovery Index Nikkei Asia showed that Cambodia had vaulted to second place behind Taiwan, after announcing that it would start to live with the coronavirus.

The index assesses countries and regions on infection management, vaccine rollouts and social mobility.

“Cambodia has been steadily climbing the ladder in recent months. It recorded fewer than 1,000 cases in January and saw no Covid deaths for a month,” the Index said.

The Index added that the Philippines, on the other hand, had slipped 45 places to 104th after the omicron variant drove an explosion in cases, though its outlook may be brightening as infections drop.

Cambodia’s early success in managing the coronavirus – with fewer than 500 reported cases and no deaths one year into the pandemic – was upended by a major outbreak that started in February 2021.

Nikkei Asia said that nevertheless, the Kingdom had since pressed ahead with its inoculation drive, relying mainly on Chinese-made vaccines. By November, it had surpassed its vaccination target, prompting Prime Minister Hun Sen to order a full reopening. Later that month, Cambodia became one of the first ASEAN member states to exempt fully vaccinated travellers from quarantine.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has reiterated that Cambodia considered vaccination against Covid-19 a strategic priority and expressed his appreciation for the sharing of vaccines between nations.

“Vaccination is the key to controlling the spread and getting on track to end the crisis and reopen socio-economic activities under the new normal,” he said.

The premier on February 4 told relevant ministries and institutions to accelerate the Covid-19 booster vaccination rollout, to develop herd immunity.

Speaking at a Council of Ministers session, he also called on the medically eligible but unvaccinated population to get the jabs as soon as possible.

He noted that the fourth-dose vaccination campaign was currently focused on government officials, armed forces and Phnom Penh residents, and would expand to the provinces once cold storage capacity had reached a sufficient level.

“The Cambodian government is doing its utmost to avoid any more deaths from Covid-19, by ensuring that the Kingdom does not lack vaccines for our people, for as long as this pandemic persists,” he said.

Hun Sen also hailed the progress of the Kingdom’s economic recovery, which he said had led to an increase of tax revenue.

This progress will compensate for the increase in government expenditure throughout the pandemic, he said.

According to the Ministry of Health, as of February 5 nearly 90 per cent of the country’s estimated population of 16 million had received a standard two-dose regimen against Covid-19.

So far, nearly seven million people have received a third dose, while almost 490,000 have gotten their fourth.

WHO representative to Cambodia Li Ailan has reiterated her call for the public to remain vigilant, especially against the highly contagious Omicron variant.

She said there are three main things to bear in mind about Omicron. First, it is highly transmissible – even more so than Delta – so one can expect cases of community transmission to increase.

Second, despite causing less severe symptoms than Delta, it remains a dangerous virus, particularly for those who are unvaccinated, and for the most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with other chronic conditions.

Third, while all of the WHO Emergency Use Listed vaccines drastically reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalisation and death, they cannot prevent infection and transmission. This means that the vaccines remain one of the most important tools, but are not enough on their own to fully protect you, your family and your community, she said.

“I am calling on us all to be careful and responsible: let’s get fully vaccinated when it’s our turn, practise physical distancing and hand hygiene, cover sneezes and coughs, and increase ventilation. If we are prepared for more cases of Covid-19 in our community, we can all help to reduce the spread,” she said.

Li urged the public not let their guard down and to continue following all recommended measures.


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