The Ministry of National Defence is set to kick off its 30-day vaccination drive in the capital’s designated red zones, with up to 450,000 people expected to receive their first dose starting May 1.

Ith Sarath, Deputy Commander and Joint Chief of Staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), announced the campaign on April 29 during a special forum broadcast on the National Television of Cambodia (TVK).

“From May 1-15, we are committed to inoculating 450,000 people with their first dose, and from May 16-30 we will vaccinate them all with their second shots,” he said.

He said the campaign had been planned under the guidance of Prime Minister Hun Sen to immunise Phnom Penh residents against the disease and cut off the chain of transmission.

“We have prepared vaccination sites in the zones. We are also preparing a list and timetable so that we know how many people will be vaccinated in each district. We set up sites closest to their residences,” he said.

Sarath said the ministry will soon announce the designated vaccination sites to residents in the red zones to prevent them from flocking to get the jabs at the same time.

According to Sarat, the ministry will begin vaccinations at 90 targets on May 1.

“We will get there [if] all the people are willing to get vaccinated to get the situation back to normal,” he said.

Respiratory health expert Hen Phearak told The Post that the campaign was key to breaking the chain of transmission with many countries having had achieved great results.

He said people in Covid-19 hotspots should be immunised quickly to prevent the situation deteriorating.

In addition to vaccination, Phearak encourage the public to develop natural immunisation thought consumption of nutritious food.

“I believe the government can afford to provide nutritious food [to the people], because after we designate each zone, gathering would be minimal. The spending will be less than distributing food assistance to the wrong target.

“When we already determine an area as red zone, we can just bring fresh vegetables and fish to them,” Phearak said.

The red zones are currently located in parts of five districts including Tuol Kork, Dankgor, Meanchey, Russey Keo and Por Senchey.

In Tuol Kork, they include Boeung Salang commune’s villages 14, 16 and 17.

Red zones in Dangkor district include Praka village in Prey Sar commune and the villages of Mol, Thmey and Sambor in Dangkor commune.

In Meanchey district, all four communes are designated as red zones -- Boeung Tompun I and Stung Meanchey I, II and III.

Red zones in Russey Keo and Por Senchey districts are the entire Tuol Sangke I and Chom Chao I communes respectively.