Hun Sen gets Covid-19 jab

All good: Hun Sen giving a thumbs up sign while receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine during a vaccination campaign at the Calmette hospital in Phnom Penh. — AFP

PRIME Minister Hun Sen was inoculated with a vaccine supplied by the World Health Organisation’s Covax initiative, as a plan to immunise up to two-thirds of the country’s population was on track to be completed by the end of the year.

Hun Sen received a shot donated by India, one of 324,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that arrived on Tuesday.

His vaccination yesterday comes as Cambodia fights to quell a fresh surge in infections that has mostly affected the Chinese community in Sihanoukville, a city home to the country’s main port and huge Chinese investments and construction projects.

Hun Sen said travel to and from the city was being restricted.

Cambodia reported 31 new virus cases yesterday, for a total 909 since the pandemic began.

The latest outbreak has been traced to a foreign resident who broke hotel quarantine on Feb 4 and went to a nightclub.

That caused a slew of infections and led the government on Feb 20 to announce a two-week closure of all public schools, cinemas, bars and entertainment areas in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia, which has yet to report any virus deaths, received its first shipment of 600,000 doses of a Chinese-produced vaccine on Feb 7, part of one million doses Beijing is donating. The country began its vaccination programme on Feb 10, starting with Hun Sen’s sons, government ministers and officials. He received the Indian-manufactured vaccine because he is 68.

In China, the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine was approved only for people 18-59 years old because that was the population studied in clinical trials.

While there is no data on its effectiveness for other age groups, other countries at their discretion may use it for older people.

Hun Sen said earlier this month that Cambodia was seeking to reserve 20 million vaccine doses to inoculate 10 million people, roughly two-thirds of its population.

Australia has also announced a grant of A$28mil (RM88mil) to purchase three million doses, and Cambodia is set to get a total of seven million doses through the Covax initiative. — AP

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