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Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

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Foreigners wait to take Covid-19 tests at the National Institute of Public Health laboratory on Tuesday. Heng Chivoan

Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus.

Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said this outbreak was different from previous community transmissions in November last year because it had spread wider and faster. She explained that the ministry had repeated calls for vigilance because no one could know where the virus is present, and thus it could be transmitted at any place or time.

“The success or failure of preventing the spread of Covid-19 depends on us all. The government, ministry and medical teams are working hard all the time, and sufficient measures have already been put in place. But still, it depends on people’s participation to cut the lines of transmission as soon as possible.

“The current situation is not good for us. This transmission is complicated in a manner that makes our intervention difficult,” she said.

WHO representative Dr Li Ailan said: “We are very concerned that there could be a large-scale transmission in the community. We are now facing cases of small-scale local clusters. But I want to make it clear that we are at risk of a potentially large-scale outbreak,” she said.

Li stressed that it was of paramount importance to work together to contain the outbreak and prevent a worst-case scenario which could entail severe public health, social and economic consequences.

She said that if there were too many cases, the country’s health care system might become overwhelmed which could compound the impact on society, potentially preventing some pandemic patients from receiving proper treatment and reducing the availability of other essential medical services to the general public.

Li said: “This large community outbreak can lead to lockdowns of any affected areas and can impact schools, businesses and economic activities throughout the country.”

“We should focus our attention on fighting this current outbreak. As long as the virus can still appear anywhere, people everywhere are still under threat,” she said.

Responding to a claim that a coronavirus had been detected in a bat in Cambodia in 2010, Vandine explained that it had not been Covid-19.

“Some people have interpreted this as meaning that the disease may have originated from Cambodia. However, there has not yet been any confirmation of the origin of Covid-19, so please do not jump to false conclusions,” she said.

On February 23, the health ministry announced additional business closures in connection with the February 20 Community Event, more than doubling the total to 47. Testing and quarantine is underway, and all people who have possibly been exposed are encouraged to come forward.

Since the beginning of the public vaccination campaign on February 10, the health ministry has inoculated 7,770 people with China’s Sinopharm vaccine. In the same time, the Ministry of National Defence has vaccinated 36,735 servicemen and women.

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