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Pandemic to endemic: Learning to live with Covid-19 long-term

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Another two million doses of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines touched down in Cambodia on October 14. Heng Chivoan

Pandemic to endemic: Learning to live with Covid-19 long-term

The Kingdom's national coordinating bodies such as the inter-ministerial and permanent committees to combat Covid-19 will formulate a reopening policy for the entire nation that will see restrictions lifted, though some measures to contain the pandemic will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Ministry of Health secretary of state York Sambath said this at an event organised with the Chinese embassy to acknowledge China's recent donations of two million doses of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines, among others, on October 14.

"We have to change our attitudes and accept the new normal, which is the endemic presence of Covid-19. But with vaccines and other mitigation measure, in addition to immunity acquired from infections, the impact of the disease will gradually lessen and taper off with far fewer deaths or hospitalisations similar to how other viruses have over a period of several years, like the 1918 influenza pandemic.

"Cambodia needs to reopen the economy across all sectors, reopen all educational institutions and our borders so international tourists know they are welcome and it is safe to return. But we must remain vigilant and carry out this process correctly so we can successfully reopen the whole country.

“The head of government will probably need to review and approve the plan that the inter-ministerial committee is preparing, and we will also have a meeting with the chairperson of the permanent committee to see which sectors need help the most urgently," she said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on October 14 that China was the first country to donate Covid-19 vaccines to Cambodia, beggining in February of this year.

"So far, the Chinese government has donated a total of 6.8 million doses to Cambodia out of the 32.8 million in total that we have received from them, with the rest being direct purchases from [Chinese] suppliers on fair and favorable terms.

"The provision of these Chinese-made vaccines is what enabled Cambodia to carry out vaccination plans to rapid completion far ahead of schedule," he said.

Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine, who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, said on October 14 that the capital and 23 provinces had closed their first-round Covid-19 vaccination campaigns for adults, with Kampot being the only province left.

Vaccinations continue to be provided in the capital and provinces at certain district referral hospitals from Monday to Friday during regular business hours, free of charge to anyone who wishes to receive an initial two-dose regimen or a third dose booster shot. More information is available from the health ministry's website or through other hotlines.

As of October 13, Cambodia had vaccinated more than 13.5 million people aged 6 and older, or about 84.66 per cent of the Kingdom's total population of around 16 million.

Of those, 12 million people have received a two-dose regimen and over one million people have gotten their booster shot.

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