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Preparation is vital to responding to COVID-19

Chheang Vannarith / Share:
A health worker enters an isolation room in Cambodia fully protected from possible infection. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Making a move with critical preparedness, readiness and response actions is the only way to deal with pandemic diseases.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health announced that there were 12 new confirmed cases of Covid-19- making the total confirmed cases to 24. Most of the cases are imported cases.

It needs to be cautious that although community transmission is still largely absent in Cambodia, according to what we have known, there is an increasing risk of having an infection spite in the near future as seen in many countries. When the community transmission starts, it is more difficult to control and manage.

Since early this week, the Cambodian government has taken some concrete steps to contain as well as mitigate the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemics in the country such as forming an inter-ministerial committee to specifically deal with the pandemics and imposing travel restrictions and quarantine.

Other measures include suspending the operations of KTV and movie theatres, taking some voluntary measures on social distancing, and boosting public awareness campaign on maintaining personal and community hygiene.

The risk of not taking action is really high. A whole-of-government approach is required. The countries that move fast and take bold decisions tend to be more effective in containing and mitigating the pandemics.

Sreytouch Vong wrote in the Policy Brief of the Asian Vision Institute (AVI) that, “addressing the Covid-19 crisis requires cooperation at the global, regional and country levels. At the country level, cross-sectoral collaborations, where relevant stakeholders’ roles and scope of their contributions to the prevention and control of the virus outbreak are clearly determined, are necessary”.

More urgent collective efforts and resource mobilisation are needed in conducting proactive massive testing and screening, implementing strict quarantine and preparing facility and medical staff for an infection spite. Other equally important measures include social distancing, public knowledge and behaviour change, policy coordination and international cooperation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has done a commendable job in in Cambodia in terms of information and knowledge sharing, provision of technical expertise and critical resources, and helping the public to understand the situation and take preventive measures.

Massive testing is necessary. The director general of WHO said that one cannot fight a fire blindfolded. “And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case.

“This is the defining global health crisis of our time. The days, weeks and months ahead will be a test of our resolve, a test of our trust in science and a test of solidarity. Crises like this tend to bring out the best and worst in humanity.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing the leadership and institutional ability of the Cambodian government as well as the social capital and resilience of Cambodian people. The legitimacy of the government is at stake too.

A blame game is not a solution.

The only way to overcome this crisis is to work together. We need to prove the strength of humanity and the value of love. No one is left behind in this fight against COVID-19. We need to take care of those who are infected or vulnerable to be infected. We need to ensure safety and a sense of security to all.

We need to support and motivate our medical staff who work around the clock to save people’s lives. We need to protect ourselves and our community from being exposed to the virus. We should stay united and act calmly, avoid panic-buying.


Chheang Vannarith is president of the Asian Vision Institute (AVI)


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