Health ministry plans for Covid-19 vaccine distribution, storage

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A garment worker had her health checked at Hun Sen Champuvoin High School in Por Sen Chey district on April 23, 2020. Heng Chivoan

The Ministry of Health has set up a special working group to plan for the distribution and storage of a future Covid-19 vaccine once it is approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and reaches the Kingdom.

Ministry secretary of state York Sambath on November 24 said the ministry has been working closely with the WHO and other partner organisations to secure the supply of a vaccine. He said the ministry had also received a commitment from the Australian ambassador to Cambodia that his country would help deliver vaccine supplies to the Kingdom.

“The health ministry has set up a special working group to manage the vaccination plan, including how to provide the vaccine to the people, who would need to be vaccinated first, and so on,” Sambath said.

The health ministry is presently setting up a warehouse in the capital’s Chaom Chao commune where the vaccine can be stored at the proper temperature, once it has been approved by the WHO.

She said the ministry would prepare several warehouses to store and distribute the vaccine as well as to administer it to Cambodians.

Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine on November 25 said once a vaccine was completely evaluated by the WHO, the ministry would be entitled to a supply of the drug and apply it in the Kingdom.

“Cambodia’s health ministry is currently working closely with the WHO, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation and the Covax Facility, as well as some of our partners,” she said, referring to the global Covax initiative that brings together governments and pharmaceutical companies to ensure a Covid-19 vaccine reaches those in need.

Vandine said it remained unclear how many doses of a vaccine would be available to Cambodia, saying it depended on the availability and the capacity for production. These limitations must be discussed, she said, especially by the new vaccine working committee.

Separately, the ministry on November 25 confirmed a new Covid-19 case – a 37-year-old Nepali man who travelled by plane from Nepal to Cambodia via Qatar and South Korea.

The patient, an employee of an unnamed international organisation in Phnom Penh, was diagnosed with coronavirus in Nepal on October 19 and underwent 14 days of quarantine in that country.

On November 2 and November 8, he tested negative for Covid-19. Upon his arrival in Cambodia on November 12, he also tested negative and was allowed to self-quarantine at a hotel in Phnom Penh.

The ministry said he tested positive on the 13rd day of his quarantine on November 24 and was admitted to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital.

The latest case brings the Kingdom’s Covid-19 tally to 307, with nine active cases.

On November 25, two patients – a 34-year-old Cambodian man from Kandal province and a 69-year-old American man living in Phnom Penh – were discharged from hospital, bringing the total recovered cases to 298.