Prime Minster Hun Sen has granted approval for healthcare institutions to provide Covid-19 antiviral medicine Molnupiravir at no cost to medical and frontline workers who have tested positive and are exhibiting mild symptoms that can be treated at home.

The move comes amid a large community spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, which officials note has also affected frontline workers and impacted provision of healthcare services throughout the Kingdom.

In his March 4 letter to the commissions to combat Covid-19, heads of national hospitals and all Covid-19 treatment centers, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng said the decision was made to “help ease the burden of all officials in purchasing this medicine [Molnupiravir].”

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications has set the sale price to the public of the US-made medication at $55 per round of treatment.

Bun Heng noted that many frontline medical workers and officials had contracted the virus and were receiving treatment at home.

“The Inter-ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has received approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen to provide Molnupiravir free of charge to frontline health officials and those involved in combatting Covid-19, who have tested positive as confirmed by PCR test and are receiving treatment at home,” he said.

Eligible workers will each receive a package of Molnupiravir 200mg consisting of 40 pills.

Bun Heng added that the medicine would be provided to workers through their employers, who are also to offer them a free PCR test when requested.

Those who have tested positive but display mild symptoms are to follow standard procedures for the management and treatment of Covid-19 at home as set out by the health ministry. This includes reporting their positive result to authorities and using Molnupiravir as prescribed.

Institutions whose workers are eligible for the free medication are to submit their request for Molnupiravir to the Sub-commission for Management and Finance, and must also report to relevant sub-commissions under the Inter-ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19, said the minister.

Seng Nong, chief of the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Referral Hospital, told The Post on March 6 that Covid-19 had impacted many healthcare workers in the province. He said his hospital will “thoroughly” follow the new instructions to supply medication to frontline workers who have tested positive, adding that hospital staff have been “attentively taking care” of their coworkers who had been affected by the virus.

Data from the health ministry show that 10,000 cases of the Omicron variant have been recorded in the community to date. There have as yet been no reports specifying the number of cases among frontline workers.

The increase of Omicron cases in recent days has caused anxiety among the public, prompting long queues outside the telecoms ministry in the capital to purchase Molnupiravir.