A senior Ministry of Health official has warned that use of the Covid-19 antiviral medicine Molnupiravir before an individual has contracted the disease is dangerous as the treatment is to be used only when one tests positive, and is not to prevent infection.

Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said the ministry had issued frequent reminders to the public on standard procedures for treating Covid-19 at home, in which it had specified that the antiviral medicine should only be used after an individual had tested positive for the virus.

As Covid-19 cases show no sign of abating, Vandine said it was right that the public was concerned about the rapid spread of the virus, and of contracting it. But she advised that they “should not be too scared – nor too brave”, in reference to Cambodia’s gradual shift to living with the virus as it becomes endemic.

“The most important thing to do is to protect ourselves. Flocking to buy Molnupiravir medicine to use when we have not caught the virus is not correct,” she said, adding that the only way to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant is through prevention on an individual level.

The ministry addressed the instructions to take the antiviral medicine only to Covid-positive individuals who are either asymptomatic or exhibiting mild symptoms.

These patients should take four capsules each time every 12 hours for five consecutive days, it advised. They should start using the medicine as soon as they receive a Covid-positive result. Pregnant women and children aged under 18, as well as breastfeeding mothers, are not recommended to use it.

Separately, Siem Reap provincial governor Tea Seiha issued a public reminder to provincial authorities to continue raising awareness of ways to mitigate the spread of the virus in their communities.

He instructed provincial police and relevant authorities – including officials from the health and tourism departments – to launch public campaigns illustrating methods to prevent the spread of the virus.

These campaigns should target shopping areas, religious sites, tourist attractions, dining establishments, weddings, and any other crowded events, Seiha said.

He added that all dining establishments are to practice health measures such as enforcing social distancing, providing alcohol sanitisers, taking customers’ temperature, and using the “Stop Covid-19” QR Code and requiring proof of vaccination.

Organisers of public events taking place in the province will have to take steps to ensure social distancing is in full effect, including reducing the number of attendees. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated or who had their last vaccination more than four months ago must be prevented from entering any venue, he said.