Op-ed: PM Hun Sen: COVID-19 Vaccine is No Magic Bullet, Keep Health Measures
AKP Phnom Penh, February 09, 2021 --
It is clear that no COVID-19 vaccine is going to be a magic bullet against the spread of Coronavirus/ COVID-19, it is, however, a valuable addition to the already existing armory of health measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, among others.
“Although we have vaccines, still it is not the golden solution but requires other measures to go with it,” said Prime Minister of Cambodia, Samdech Techo Hun Sen addressing a news conference on Sunday after he received 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, as part of the 1 million doses, as grant assistance from China.
“Although we will get inoculation, still we cannot put aside our practices we have been practicing in the new normalcy,” Prime Minister stressed.
Cambodia also made it clear that she continues to comply with the 14-day quarantine process.
China’s ambassador, Wang Wentian, who was at the delivery ceremony, highlighted the cooperation of the two countries, saying that both governments helped each other, “like a saying that a friend in need is a friend indeed”.
PM Hun Sen visited Beijing last year at the time of the COVID-19 outbreak in China.
He asked people to keep wearing masks, keep washing hands, and keep social distancing.
“Without good cooperation with China we cannot receive such vaccines from China today”, the Premier noted.
He also said that people should not go to crowded places, avoid closed air-con rooms, and shaking hands.
Health experts explained that any COVID-19 vaccine in general has 3 to 6 months of effectiveness. So, it is clear that once you get inoculated, it does not mean you are immune from COVID-19 for good. However, once a person gets vaccinated, the chances of contracting Coronavirus is very slim or mild compared to others who have not been inoculated.
The first batch of 600,000 doses will be split in half equally between the Ministries of Health and National Defence. Cambodia’s defense minister, Deputy PM Tea Banh wrote to China, which pledged to provide the total of 1 million doses of vaccine.
“I will write to ask more from China,” said PM Hun Sen who hopes that Beijing will provide more.
The Premier cited the World Health Organization advice that if a country can vaccinate 80 percent of its citizens it would go a long way towards controlling Coronavirus.
In December 2020 Cambodia looked for 20 million doses.
“I still want to get our people to get inoculations, as many as 13 million. But, the problem now is that although we have money, still it is difficult to purchase vaccine”.
Cambodia will also get 3 million doses of vaccine as assistance from Australia.
India provides Cambodia 100,000 doses of vaccine upon PM Hun Sen’s request.
Cambodia needs around 9 to 14 million doses of vaccine. Officially, Cambodia’s population was 15.6 million in 2020.
The inoculation programme will kick off on Feb. 10, 2021 at four hospitals: Calmette, Angdoung, National Patriotic, and Khmer-Soviet Friendship, in Phnom Penh.
Senior government officials, media people, and officials from the sub-national level will be the first group to receive inoculation of China’s donated Sinopharm.
The Ministry of Health spokeswoman, Or Vandine, said that the inoculation will be voluntary, and follow medical checks and consultation with medical experts. Some health conditions prohibit vaccination for those suffering from them.
Or Vandine, who is also the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health, said that she, herself, will get vaccinated on Wednesday as well.
The Sinopharm vaccine can only be inoculated on people who age between 18 and 59 and that means Prime Minister, 68, will not get vaccinated.
Cambodia’s leaders have say that the Royal Government of Cambodia takes various health measures to ensure the safety and well-being of the people and that will contribute to improving its economy, which has been hit hard since last year.
Cambodia estimates its economy dropped only 2 percent for last year. With the expected return of domestic demand and the greater free trade with its partners, such as China, South Korea, among others, the country’s economic forecast is projected to rise 4.3 percent in 2021 and 5.2 percent next year.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 a year ago more than 106 million people have been infected globally, including more than 2.32 million deaths, 39.4 million recovered, and the remainder are hospitalised.
Two more cases of COVID-19 were recently detected in Cambodia, making the total cases 476 and no death reported.
Cambodia’s Health Ministry reports that a 19-year-old Cambodian woman who travelled from the U.S. and transited in South Korea, shared the same flight with a 26 year-old female Chinese national, arrived Cambodia on Feb. 7, 2021 and both tested positive for COVID-19. 90 other passengers who travelled on the same flight are quarantined.
So, the vaccines are good news, and will positively impact the economy, but we must remain vigilant, keep our guard up, and maintain the healthy practices have served us so well so far.
By Ek Tha
Spokesman of the Council of Ministers Office,
Standing Vice-Chairman of the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit,
Adviser to the Ministry of Information