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PM thanks China for jabs, boosters set for officials

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Vendors and residents living in the vicinity of Depo market in Tuol Kork district get Covid-19 tests. Heng Chivoan

PM thanks China for jabs, boosters set for officials

Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 4 thanked China for its role as the primary source of vaccines in Cambodia which has helped put the Kingdom on track to vaccinate the target population of 12 million people aged 12 and older ahead of schedule.

Hun Sen made the remarks after 2.5 million Sinovac vaccine doses touched down in Phnom Penh on September 4, of which two million were purchased from the Chinese pharmaceutical firm and 500,000 were donations facilitated by the Chinese government.

“[The vaccines] clearly demonstrate an iron-clad spirit of friendship between China and Cambodia and it is because of this spirit of friendship that we support each other and it is because of this spirit that China has contributed so much to Cambodia’s fight against Covid-19,” he said.

According to Hun Sen, Cambodia has received nearly 30 million vaccine doses through purchase and donation, mostly from China. A smaller portion of that total came from the World Health Organisation-led Covax Facility.

"The government has strived to procure vaccines to administer to the people free of charge. We have received vaccines from the World Health Organisation through Covax and from Japan, the UK and US, but China has provided the most vaccine doses," he said.

Ministry of Health secretary of state York Sambath, who personally received the vaccines at Phnom Penh International Airport, said the donation was a sign of the progress being made towards the building of a community of common destiny between China and Cambodia.

“It is a reflection of our traditional friendship and solidarity as well as being a part of the Cambodia-China comprehensive strategy for our cooperation to continue to grow in strength,” she said.

Sambath said another five million Sinovac vaccines doses that the government has purchased will also arrive later this month.

Meanwhile, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration will begin administering Covid-19 booster shots from September 6 -28 for government officials, spouses and citizens aged 60 and above who received the AstraZeneca vaccines – marketed as CoviShield – four to six months ago for their first two doses.

According to governor Khuong Sreng, the booster shots, or third doses, will be given to officials from municipality including those from the 14 districts, 105 communes, municipal departments and their spouses.

The additional shots will be dispensed at designated public hospitals and health centres in each district.

The officers and their spouses must produce their public servant cards, ID and vaccine cards at the centres in order to get jabbed.

“Even after receiving the booster shots, you must strictly follow the rules of social distancing, mask wearing and avoiding crowded areas,” Sreng advised.

As of September 4, Cambodia had vaccinated 95.33 per cent of the target adult population of 10 million and 84.42 per cent of the 12-17 age group of nearly two million.

Vaccinations with third doses have reached over 660,000 people, mostly frontline workers and border personnel.

As vaccinations close in on the government’s goal of reaching 12 million people and the number of new cases and deaths per day have dropped, senior health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine reminded the public that they can still contract the virus despite being fully vaccinated and even after they have their booster shots.

Vandine, who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, said on September 2 that a person who contracts one strain of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and recovers can still be vulnerable to contracting the other strains in circulation.

“For the patients who have recovered from the disease, this means that their bodies have already learned to produce antibodies. If their bodies couldn’t produce enough antibodies, that would mean the patient could not recover,” she said.

Therefore, she added, those who have recovered from the virus recently should not rush to get vaccinated because their bodies are still producing antibodies naturally.

Even as overall Covid-19 cases have dropped, the health ministry reported a surge in Delta variant cases, with the tally increasing to 2,647 as of September 4 across 22 provinces and the capital, while Kep and Kratie both remain free from the strain.

According to the ministry’s press release on September 5, Phnom Penh recorded the most cases at 914, followed by Banteay Meachey at 526, Oddar Meanchey at 245 and Siem Reap at 207.

Stung Treng province, which borders Delta-free Kratie, has also detected a high number of delta cases at 119.

The new numbers show a jump of 895 cases in just one week from the 1,752 the ministry confirmed on August 29.

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