The new Omicron sub-variants of Covid-19 – BA.4 and BA.5 – have been fine-tuned via mutations through the natural process of evolution to evade the human body’s immune response, even if someone has been vaccinated or recently infected with another Covid-19 variant, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health officials.

The sub-variants ability to easily infect or re-infect even vaccinated people has prompted the government to recommend that everyone get vaccinated with booster doses if it has been three months since their last shot because the vaccines still provide protection against serious illness and death, according to health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine.

Vandine – who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination commission – added that the transmission of the Covid-19 virus both globally and in the region is still growing and some countries are experiencing resurgence in cases due to outbreaks of the new Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

“Cambodia has also been affected by the outbreak of the new Covid-19 sub-variants, which we have found in the community here and we ask the public to pay attention to protecting their health by preventing these infections,” she said.

Vandine also advised that citizens who suspect that they may be infected with Covid-19 must not hesitate or delay and quickly test themselves to see if it comes back positive or negative so they don’t risk infecting others and they can begin treatments such as Molnupiravir earlier.

“A quick test will help you to know if you are infected or not, and when you know early, you can get medical care quickly which will help to reduce the risk of severe infection as well,” she said.

As of July 18, 237 cases of infection have been detected in Cambodia after zero new cases had been reported in the last 52 days. Also, 113 cases had recovered.

No serious illnesses or deaths have been reported in this latest Covid-19 wave thus far.

According to health officials, the positive Covid-19 patients have all been allowed to stay at home as they did not have any serious symptoms, but hospitals were on stand-by to treat any serious cases and help prevent the spread of the disease if the situation worsened.

The capital’s deputy governor, Koeut Chhe, stated that the Phnom Penh Municipal Authority has strived to fulfil its obligations by providing services to Covid-19 patients at home without any discrimination in accordance with the guidelines of the government through the health ministry.

“When our people inform us they are infected, we send a team of doctors to see them and provide medicine for treatment immediately if they need it and we do this work quickly and without any complaints from citizens,” he said.

The health ministry and the WHO in Cambodia have issued home care guidelines for suspected Covid-19 patients after Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the government would allow any patients without serious symptoms to get medical care at home.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng said that his ministry will conduct a census and verify data on Covid-19 vaccinations for workers throughout Cambodia as part of its duty to oversee occupational safety and health conditions in factories nationwide.

In a statement on July 18, Samheng said that factory owners must cooperate with local authorities in the capital and provinces and the provincial departments of labour and vocational training by advising their workers to fill in the information on their vaccination status in the employment data management system through the website:

“The owners or directors of the enterprises must update the information for their factories and their number of workers through the website and set up a safety and health team at the factories,” Samheng said.

The labour ministry inspectors will assist with the review of the vaccination data for workers and update the factory information and the number of workers as well as build occupational safety and health teams at the factories and enterprises, according to the minister.

“In case the owner or director of the enterprise does not comply with the contents of this notice, they shall be considered in violation of article 382 of the Labour Law and will be fined. Further legal action may be taken by the labour inspectors. We sincerely hope that all factory owners or directors of enterprises follow these instructions correctly and efficiently,” he added.