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False sense of security over virus

Taing Rinith / Khmer Times Share:
People crowd a street in Phnom Penh. KT/Siv Channa

With the COVID-19 situation seemingly under control, Khmer Times journalist Taing Rinith shares his thought on how people are losing their fear over the pandemic.

A Health Ministry statement yesterday says no new case of COVID-19 has been reported in Cambodia in more than two weeks. In addition, all but two of the 122 patients in the Kingdom have recovered. Hope seems to be in sight for the nation’s recovery from the notorious virus.

Owing to this, the people’s fear of the coronavirus is subsiding. Roads in city are increasingly being filled with vehicles and people are starting to gather and go on trips together. Nowadays, not so many of them are seen wearing face masks and many are no longer afraid of being in crowded places.

This week, in my neighbourhood in Phnom Penh, a group of people held a big party. They ate, drank and danced to their hearts’ content. They told me the party was to celebrate the “end of COVID-19”.

But, how could this public health crisis be over while there are still more than two million active cases around the world?

No one can doubt that the efforts by the Cambodian government to curb the coronavirus has shown positive results.

However, the people’s negligence and recklessness can easily ruin this hard work and bring disaster to Cambodia.

Prime Minister Hun Sen had a cogent reason when two weeks ago he urged people to stay home, wear masks and wash their hands regularly despite the decline in the active cases and no new cases being detected in the Kingdom.

Health Minster Mam Bun Heng also did the right thing when he warned the people not to assume that Cambodia is free from COVID-19.

The coronavirus knows no boundaries. It could be anywhere, and we can be exposed to it anytime. To make matters worse, due to its asymptomatic nature, it is impossible to identify who carries the virus.

When you ignore the government’s measures and instructions and go out to interact with hundreds – if not thousands – of people and touch everything without proper protection, not only is your wellbeing in danger but also that of your family’s, your community’s and the entire nation’s. A few seconds of carelessness can destroy what the whole country has done to combat the virus. Would you like that?

Many Singaporeans had thought that the authorities has flattened the curve until the country, the most developed in Southeast Asia, reported a record jump of 1,426 cases on a single day late last month. Singapore is now the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the region. This is a lesson learned from which Cambodians need to learn: never underestimate this invisible enemy.

Although Cambodia has achieved a good response to the first phase of the coronavirus, Dr Li Ailan, WHO country representative, this week warned that Cambodia remains at high risk of a second wave of outbreak. The caveat is not exaggerated, as all countries in the region, including its close neighbours, are still bedevilled by the virus.

A second wave is the last thing that the Kingdom wants right now as its economy has been suffering badly from the pandemic and people are losing their jobs and incomes.

Studies have shown the crisis can only be ended after an effective vaccine is discovered and mass-produced. Experts say this will need approximately one year.

In the meantime, it is a must for all of us to keep being cautious and protect ourselves and everyone around us by strictly and consistently following the instructions of the government and the WHO.

Each and every one of us has a part to fulfil to contain the global coronavirus. Only together can we really end this crisis.

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