Cambodian PM Hun Sen urges vigilance as Omicron spreads; 10 new Omicron infections reported on Tuesday

People celebrate New Year’s Eve in Siem Reap province. - Phnom Penh Post/ANN

PHNOM PENH, Jan 11 (Phnom Penh Post/ANN): Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that 14 more Omicron community cases had been detected in Cambodia in just three days, though no deaths from the highly transmissible coronavirus variant have been reported thus far.

Prior to January 8-9 when the first Omicron community cases were reported, the strain had been detected only on inbound passengers.

Speaking at the official inauguration of an 85km stretch of National Road 5 connecting Battambang province to neighbouring Banteay Meanchey’s Sisophon town on January 10, the premier reiterated his call for people to protect themselves from the virus.

“Due to the invisibility of the virus, we must continue the protection efforts of each citizen and each family by wearing masks, washing hands with alcohol and avoiding crowded places. It is very difficult to ban people from going into crowded places but we will make the effort to do so,” he stated.

The Ministry of Health reported the first Omicron community case on January 8 – a 23-year-old Cambodian man residing in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district.

It said the case was still being investigated, noting that contact tracing was underway after identifying three people in Kampot province and two in Phnom Penh who had been in close contact with him.

Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said on January 10 that given the detection of community spread, it was likely that the Omicron was already circulating at an alarming speed because this variant was incredibly contagious.

She said this was a sign that people should continue to exercise extra precautions and protect themselves in the most serious manner possible rather than ignoring the issue or relaxing their guard.

“There is nothing required this time that is unique or special – just the participation everyone,” she said. “But what we have done so far is not enough. What is important is the participation of all people in their own self-protection because we do not want this virus to spread more widely in our community.”

She added that the ministry had expected community infections and spread and had always explained that it would require widespread efforts by the public to contain it.

“When this virus infects someone, if we test them immediately after that, we won’t detect it. And without a positive test we can’t very well conclude that someone is infected with Covid-19.

"So, a person may appear to be healthy but at any time Covid-19 could develop and cause the person to have symptoms and so on,” she said. “And even if they don’t have symptoms and never realize they were infected they could still be spreading the virus.”

She emphasised that more than 100 Omicron cases have so far been detected in airline passengers arriving from abroad and most of them did not appear to have any symptoms at all. If one of them tested negative for Covid-19 at the airport despite being infected, then that is all it would take to get into the country and how it most likely spread to the community.

She said it would be a decision by the head of government whether to lockdown or not and it would also depend on the participation of everyone in implementing health measures.

“I believe that our brothers and sisters, including me, do not want to walk backwards and we do not want see lockdowns either. We demand that all participate to change their way of life and that everyone implement strict self-protection measures,” Vandine added.

Hun Sen lifted all quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and visitors – both Cambodians and foreign nationals – effective from November 15 onward.

All arriving passengers need to take a rapid test at international points of entry into Cambodia and wait for 15 to 20 minutes to get their results. If the results are negative, they can then travel anywhere in Cambodia without further quarantine, restrictions or monitoring.

Those who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 who travel to Cambodia are required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and quarantine for 14 days.

The Ministry of Health on January 11 reported 34 new Covid-19 cases, 24 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant.

The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths.

As of January 11, Cambodia had recorded a total of 120,670 Covid-19 cases with 117,034 recoveries and 3,015 fatalities. - Phnom Penh Post/ANN

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Cambodia , Hun Sen , Advice , People , Vigilant , Omicron , Covid-19


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