As human beings, we must always value life. It is the most important thing of all. Yes, living a healthy life plays a vital role in contributing to social and economic development. In times of a global health crisis, to protect our health we need to work together, not less.
The war against Coronavirus is a global people’s war. We need to deal with it together to get back our normality of social life and the resumption of robust trade, investment and tourism.
Unfortunately, I have observed that some people seem to be too afraid of the virus and scared that they would get sick and die if they are infected. The fact is that it depends on the individual’s health condition. This does not mean we deny the fact that Coronavirus is a serious global pandemic. Our humanity is at a crossroads. We unite, we survive. What I am trying to say is do not let fear of the virus create chaos. Such fear or chaos will not help us see the full picture of this public health crisis.
Let us join hands to contain the virus. Some people, amid the spread of Coronavirus, even turn the situation into a worse scenario by discriminating against one another and fail to see that the virus is the common issue that requires global actions. We all are part of the global village. If we fail to join hands and unite to combat Coronavirus, the virus will surely kill us one by one. I am not an expert on pandemic diseases, but as a government official, novelist and academic researcher, I like to go through stacks of documents, both online and hard copies, from different sources. At one point the document by the Corona Ebook intrigued me a great deal. It says that the virus can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another, through nose, throat, airways and lungs by droplets produced when coughing or sneezing. Close contact with infected persons and direct contact with contaminated surfaces, objects, or items of personal use are also blamed for the spread.
It also says that the virus has “high infectivity but low mortality” rate ranging between 2 to 3 percent, compared with SARS in 2003 which was 10 percent, and MERS in 2012 with 35 percent.
The risk of death is higher for older people aged over 60 and people with pre-existing health conditions. That is to say, “If someone catches the disease, it does not mean the person will die because almost 80 per cent of people have mild symptoms and recover from the disease in two weeks”.
Also, “Most of the symptoms can be treated with timely medical care,” according to Corona Ebook. “Do not travel or visit crowded places if you are sick.”
The Ministry of Health took some concrete measures recently such as using the Great Duke Hotel in Phnom Penh as the hospital for checking, care, and treatment for the patients of Coronavirus.
Large-scale public gatherings or events have been banned. All schools have been closed down.
The Royal Government of Cambodia has allocated multi-millions of dollars for the Ministry of Health to do its job amid the spread of the disease. As of now, 37 cases have been confirmed in the country since the virus hit the country in early February.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has offered an additional $2 million in aid to Cambodia for risk communication, community engagement and laboratory support in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
China’s embassy said it will provide Detection Reagent along with protective suits, masks and other medical equipment for Cambodia’s health workers to contain and combat the virus.
PM Hun Sen, on March 15, said that, given the increasing spread of the virus globally, especially in Europe, the US and Iran that he instructed all Cambodians to not travel to those regions unless it is absolutely necessary. All government officials, both at the national and sub-national levels, must not attend any kind of meeting overseas in those countries, said the premier.
The Office of the Council of Ministers (OCM) suspended its meetings from March 17 until April 20 as part of the government’s campaign to prevent the spread of the virus. Some Ministries such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Ministry of Industry and Handicraft have instructed their officials to work from home.
Ek Tha is spokesman of the Office of the Council of Ministers