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Vaccine drive ready for shot in arm in June

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Monks are inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine in Phnom Penh's Boeung Keng Kang district on May 18. Heng Chivoan

Vaccine drive ready for shot in arm in June

With one million more doses of Covid-19 vaccine scheduled to arrive on May 23 and another large shipment expected in June, Cambodia is set to accelerate its vaccination drive for residents in all 14 districts of Phnom Penh and in Kandal province, a senior Ministry of Health official said.

Or Vandine – the ministry spokeswoman and head of the national vaccination commission – said the large-scale campaign could begin next month.

“We expect that in June we will be able to vaccinate all districts of Phnom Penh and we will consider and study in detail the possibility of expansion to Kandal province with the vaccines we have on hand,” she said while inspecting the vaccination process for Boeung Keng Kang and Sen Sok districts, which began on May 18.

Vandine added that the vaccination of Phnom Penh and Kandal are Prime Minister Hun Sen’s highest priorities and would constitute a great achievement when completed.

“When more vaccines are shipped to Cambodia, we will push those vaccines out to the people of Preah Sihanouk province once we have finished the vaccination in Kandal,” she said.

Vandine said the vaccines will help people build immunity against the virus and minimise the severity of any Covid-19 infections as well as drastically reducing the rate of mortality.

As of May 17, the country has vaccinated more than two million people against Covid-19 nationwide.

To date, Cambodia is scheduled to receive more than five million doses of vaccines both as donations and through the government’s purchase orders, with the majority of vaccines in both categories coming from China.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defence’s vaccination team in the capital has continued its campaign across eight districts – Kamboul, Dangkor, Por Sen Chey, Meanchey, Tuol Kork, Russey Keo – along with the recent additions of Boeung Keng Kang and Sen Sok.

And while much of Phnom Penh’s red zones is set to be reduced to household or building level, governor Khuong Sreng said he could not confirm the lifting of the 8pm-3am curfew.

“I will announce tomorrow whether the curfew will be lifted or extended,” he said at a meeting on May 17.

Cambodia has of late seen a decrease in new active cases and a significant rise in recoveries. On May 18, the health ministry reported only 345 infections and a whopping 1,337 recoveries.

Separately on May 18, during a virtual meeting with health minister

Mam Bun Heng, World Health Organisation regional director for the western pacific Takeshi Kasai lauded the Cambodian government for its leadership and efforts in response to the virus during this difficult time.

“Cambodia is doing well on rolling out Covid-19 vaccines to priority groups – health care workers, older people, and others with conditions which put them at risk of getting very sick – but like other countries, it is experiencing supply challenges.

“This is why Vaccine Equity is critical,” Kasai tweeted after the meeting.

Kasai called on the public to remain vigilant.

“We know people are tired of the pandemic, but we all agree we must maintain the public health measures and protective behaviours which prevent and slow transmission of the virus,” he said.

Li Ailan, WHO representative to Cambodia, echoed Kasai’s remarks. She said that while Cambodia’s weekly Covid-19 cases have been declining of late, the virus was still circulating.

“We hope for the good and we prepare for the bad. I sincerely commend the [Cambodian] Minister of Health and my colleagues in the health ministry for their leadership,” she said.

As of May 18, Cambodia had recorded a total of 22,889 Covid-19 cases with 14,343 recoveries and 156 fatalities.

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