The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia on July 30 called on people from all walks of life to make a concerted effort to stamp out the spread of the novel coronavirus.
This comes as the Delta variant triggers a spike in hospitalisations and injects fresh urgency into pandemic response and prevention efforts.
SARS-CoV-2 – the pathogen that causes Covid-19 – is widely circulating in the community, driving up daily confirmed case and fatality counts to relatively high levels, the WHO noted in a statement.
The UN health agency sounded the alarm over the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which it pointed out has been detected among migrant workers returning through land borders and has now spread to the local community.
WHO representative to Cambodia Dr Li Ailan said: “I urge everyone to take every necessary and recommended action to protect themselves, their families and others from getting infected by the virus.
“Our collective actions will determine our success or failure in fighting against Covid-19. We must stand together and act together to save lives, protect the health system and minimise disruption to the society,” she said.
According to the WHO, the Delta variant is replacing the strains of the coronavirus predominant in previous waves, leading to a surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations.
The Delta strains have brought widespread devastation around the world, it said, warning that if SARS-CoV-2 is not suppressed, the virus could naturally evolve into even more dangerous variants and mutations.
Dr Li added: “We are racing against new variants. We must act today, and we must act fast to have no regrets tomorrow.”
She stressed that the Kingdom is at a “critical moment”, which she said has necessitated difficult decisions by the government regarding the implemention of prevention and control strategies.
Dr Li offered as an example the ongoing lockdown of Siem Reap and the seven provinces along the Thai frontier – Koh Kong, Pursat, Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear.
The WHO underlined the need for “an effective combination of risk-based public health and social measures” to stave off transmission, including a targeted halt to non-essential travel and restriction of social gatherings, especially those indoors.
It urged the public to avoid high-risk “3C settings” – crowded, close-contact and confined – unless personal exposure can be significantly reduced, but opined that “safer businesses” should be allowed to continue operations, with the proper risk-mitigation measures in place.
The agency commended government efforts to reign in the spread of the disease, as well as the vaccination rollout, calling on the public to follow preventive guidelines, regardless of their vaccination status.
“Wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, wash hands with soap/hand rub frequently, avoid crowded, confined and closed spaces, avoid gatherings, and stay at home if you feel sick and seek medical assistance from nearest health facility immediately,” the WHO said.
As of July 31, there has no update on number of Delta cases in Cambodia, but the Ministry of Health earlier revealed that 75 cases had been detected as of March 31, warning that some were local transmissions without a clear source of infection.