Cambodian minister calls for vigilance lest Omicron overwhelm country

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network): A senior Ministry of Health official has called on residents to not underestimate the possibility of a renewed attack by the Omicron coronavirus variant, and to participate in taking action to prevent the further spread of the virulent strain.

Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine (pic), who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, urged that people adhere to preventative measures that are already in place.

“I implore all citizens to continue to implement the three dos and three don’ts measures and to make sure your vaccinations are as up to date as possible. This will minimise the spread of Omicron and save people’s lives,” she said on Feb 16.

Vandine added that in many countries around the world and in the region, Omicron cases were being detected every day, and the Kingdom was no exception.

“Mortality in some countries has already occurred in people with chronic illnesses and in those who have not been fully vaccinated. Do not underestimate the possibility of an outbreak occurring at any time,” she said.

Omicron has been circulating in the community in Cambodia, especially in overcrowded enclosed areas that lack air flow or rely on re-circulated air from air conditioners. Often the spread is linked to densely populated areas where people are not practising health guidelines, she said.

“As long as we are negligent, the chance of increased infections remains high. I want to remind everyone of the importance of working together to slow them down. We must follow the health ministry’s advice,” she added.

She advised that anyone suspected of being infected with the virus take a rapid test, while those who return a positive result must immediately self-isolate.

Vandine said those who were isolating or undergoing treatment in their homes must follow the prescribed recommendations of the ministry to avoid the risk of infecting family members.

WHO representative to Cambodia Li Ailan stated in early February that Omicron was far more contagious than the previously common Delta strain.

“Omicron may seem to cause less serious symptoms than Delta, but infection still remains dangerous, especially to the unvaccinated and to the vulnerable, such as the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses,” she said.

Li added that the high levels of vaccination in the Kingdom were gratifying and illustrated the country’s successful roll-out campaign, though a small number of people have not yet been fully vaccinated.

“We must also remember that vaccines alone will not end this pandemic. In addition to vaccines, personal protective measures such as wearing a mask, increasing airflow, maintaining social distance and maintaining respiratory hygiene [when coughing and sneezing] all play an important role in stopping the spread,” she said.

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Cambodia , Vandine , Omicron , warn


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