The government has begun vaccinating frontline medical officers, military and border police along the Thai and Vietnam borders who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 as migrant workers keep flocking back to the Kingdom.
Since February 10, inoculations were solely confined to priority groups in the capital.
Vaccinations kicked off in the provinces yesterday and scores of doctors have already received doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.
Defence Minister General Tea Banh on Monday also visited Koh Kong province to oversee a vaccination campaign for border troops, police and the navy there.
Gen Banh said that he was very proud and happy the army personnel are being vaccinated because soldiers are at high risk of contracting the deadly disease.
Khloak Hout, director of the Oddar Meanchey provincial Department of Health, said yesterday that he had been vaccinated and in total, 40 doctors have so far been inoculated.
Hout said: “For the first stage of vaccinations I will give priority to frontline doctors, because I think that they are in direct contact with high-risk people returning from Thailand.”
He added that police and military personnel will receive their vaccines from the Ministry of Defence.
Keu Ratha, director of Svay Rieng provincial Department of Health told local media the province had received 3,000 doses of the vaccine from the Health Ministry and six health facilities will be administering them.
The six facilities are Svay Rieng Provincial Hospital, Svay Chrum Referral Hospital, Svay Teap Referral Hospital, Samaki Romduol Referral Hospital, Chi Phu Referral Hospital and Rhino Torn Hospital.
Voeung Bunreth, director of the Battambang provincial Department of Health, said he has received 9,600 doses from the Health Ministry and vaccinations will begin from tomorrow.
“We will provide Sinopharm vaccines to the prioritised people, especially the doctors on the frontline at the Cambodia-Thai border on February 25. We don’t know yet when we will finish the first stage of vaccinations,” Bunreth said.
Vaccines have also been deployed in Kandal province at the Vietnamese border.
Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine confirmed yesterday that doctors have been allowed to start administering Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines in several provinces along the Vietnamese and Thai borders. Other doctors continue to be trained in administering vaccines in an effort to equip high-capacity hospitals in every province with doses.
She made the remarks at a joint press conference with Dr Li Ailan, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia, and Dr Laurence Baril, the director of the Institut du Pasteur.
At the press conference, Dr Ailan said AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines are due in Cambodia by the end of February via the COVAX Facility and cautioned people to remain vigilant against the virus amid the latest community outbreak. She added if prevention measures aren’t strictly adhered to, the most recent outbreak could turn into a large scale problem for the country.
Both Ailan and Vandine repeatedly stressed the urgency in ensuring all citizens take measures to protect themselves and Vandine said if it’s not essential to go out, people should stay home.
Meanwhile, infections arising from the February 20 Community Incident continue to rise with 23 new cases reported yesterday bringing the tally to 99.
In an alarming development, three cases have been found to be of the more virulent new strain first detected in the United Kingdom.
The Ministry of Health yesterday reported a total of 25 new cases, including the 23 linked to the February 20 incident.
The other two were imported cases involving peacekeepers who returned from a UN mission in Africa on Sunday.
One was a 40-year-old Blue Helmet from Kampong Speu province who flew in from Africa via India. The other is a 35-year-old peacekeeper from Phnom Penh who flew in on the same flight.
The Health Ministry said both are being treated at the Kampong Speu Polytechnic Peacekeeping School.
The cases linked to the February 20 incident are being treated at the Chak Angre Health Center in Phnom Penh.
Regarding the latest community spread, Vandine said yesterday that preventing the spread of COVID-19 has become more difficult than previous community incidents because of the speed of transmissions.
“Success or failure for the containment of COVID-19 infection depends on the people to prevent and protect themselves and follow with Health Ministry’s measures to wear masks and if not necessary, not to leave home at all, ” she said.
Vandine said the February 20 Community Incident had a high incidence of infections and the new strain has been discovered during laboratory tests at the Pasteur Institute.
In another development, the Ministry of Health yesterday declared that a number of hotspots linked to the “February 20 community Incident” has increased to 47 locations.
Previously 13 locations which had been identified were N8 Club near the corner of Street 217, Tuol Svay Prey commune, Casa By Meridian at Koh Pich, Le Gong Guan Hotel in Phsar Thmey III, Yi Lu Ling Xian in Tonle Bassac commune, City Comfort in Boeng Prolet commune, The Bridge in Tonle Bassac commune, The Pointe Serviced Apartments near Doeumkor market, Mekong Street in Chroy Changva commune, The Penthouse Residence in front of AEON I, Sky Line (Dumex) in Mittaheap commune, Somet Condoninium in Veal Vong commune, Residence L Olympic near Olympic Stadium and Prince Plaza Center in Tonle Bassac commune.
This was expanded to 11 more locations on Monday. They are: Diamond Twin in Koh Pich, Celeste Sky Bar in front of AEON I, Jinzun Karaoke in front of Phnom Penh International Airport, Coco Club and Hotel in Chaktomuk commune, Juhao Hotel in Tonle Bassac commune, The World Shop at the back of Ratana Plazza market, One Mention shop at the back of Ratana Plaza market, 168 club near Olympic Stadium, Love restaurant in Boeng Raing commune, Hun Sen Phnom Penh Thmey high school in Phnom Penh Thmey commune and SIS International school near Doeumkor market.
Yesterday, 23 more locations were identified. They are: Kolab I primary school near Wat Phnom, American Intercontinental School in Chak Angre Loeu commune, Jinzun Karaoke in front of Phnom Penh International Airport, Borey Hitech in Niroth commune, Sela Whitehouse in Prek Eng commune, Borey Chip Mong Land in Sen Sok commune, Bali 2 in Chroy Changva commune, Bali 5 in Tonle Basac commune, Phariya Aparment in Tonle Bassac commune, Ngan Sophy ‘House in Kouk Khlaing commune, Resident Le Boeng Tompun in Boeng Tompun commune, Rotha’s Family near Wat Phnom, Wedding Party near Global Pary in Taing Krasaing commune, Romantic Restaurant near Wat Phnom, Golden Jazz in Koh Pich, Sous Tony’s Families in Tuol Sangke commune, Ey Luo Ling Seang’s Shop in AEON I, HH Hotel in the back of Wat Alangka, Diamond One in Koh Pich, Ny Ka Smy in Beung Trabek commune, Gold Class in Beung Keng Kang commune, CASA Villa in Beung Keng Kang, Elysee’ in Koh Pich.
All 47 locations have been quarantined off to contain the cluster spread.