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Ministry explains new UK Covid-19 strain

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A migrant worker has her temperature checked in Oddar Meanchey province after returning from Thailand on Monday. Oddar Meanchey Provincial Hall

Ministry explains new UK Covid-19 strain

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine addressed the new mutation of the Covid-19 virus that was found in England, saying that research was underway in multiple countries.

The new variant of Covid-19 has been named SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01, with the extension of the acronym representing ‘Variant Under Investigation in December 2020’. It was first detected in test samples taken in England’s southeast county of Kent in September and is now spreading rapidly.

BBC reports on December 20 said that cases of the new variant had been identified in Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Australia. Initial studies in England suggest that the new variant might be more contagious than others.

Vandine said: “Investigations in England and the EU are underway to determine the variant’s communicability and severity of infection and whether it will have any impact on the efficacy of vaccines or lead to re-infection of individuals. I would like to be clear that this new variant of the virus does not affect diagnostic processes used in Cambodia.”

She said Cambodia is currently awaiting a determination as to which Covid-19 vaccine would be distributed to member countries by the COVAX Facility as well as prior assessments of that vaccine with conclusive results about its efficacy and safety.

In the meantime, she reminded Cambodians to carry out precautionary measures consistently and remember the “Do’s and Don’ts” advised by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The public is urged to wear masks, wash hands and maintain social distancing while avoiding unventilated indoor spaces, crowds, and physical contact with others including shaking hands, hugging, standing closely together or touching. People must adapt to the new normal, Vandine said.

She also advised that proper use of disinfectant sprays and sanitisers made with alcohol was very useful and does not adversely affect human health. It was important, however, to prevent such products from entering people’s bodies. Use on clothes is also acceptable.

“Spraying disinfectant over clothes or shoes to kill the virus is good. It is not a problem at all. Please avoid directly spraying disinfectant on bodies. It could affect the eyes or mouth or be inhaled unintentionally,” Vandine explained.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian embassy in Thailand issued guidance for migrant workers after the Thai Ministry of Labour issued new detailed directives and called for cooperation from employers nationwide in implementing Covid-19 protection and control measures.

“They [employers] must measure temperatures of foreign workers in case their temperatures are too high or there are other unusual symptoms. They are to prepare alcohol for washing hands in the workplace at exits, entrances and bathrooms. All foreign workers must wear masks and gloves and maintain physical separation while at work. [Employers] are responsible for explaining to and instructing foreign workers about Covid-19 protective methods,” said the Thai labour ministry.

The embassy called for Cambodians in Thailand to continue cooperating with instructions from the local government, including abiding by any restrictions of movement, and asked them to remain vigilant in protecting their own health in order to stop further spread of the disease.

The Cambodian health ministry announced on December 23 that no new cases of Covid-19 had been detected in the country while two more patients had recovered, leaving only 14 still undergoing treatment.

Both recovering individuals are Cambodian nationals – a 21 year-old female bank employee from Chbar Ampov district’s Veal Sbov commune in Phnom Penh who was infected in conjunction with the November 28 community transmission event and a 26 year-old male from Kampot province’s Dang Tong district who had recently travelled from Japan via South Korea.

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