Kingdom eyes 5M Indian jabs

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Prime Minister Hun Sen meets Indian ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Uttamkhobragade at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on January 18. SPM

The Kingdom is set to purchase an additional five million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from India and is requesting a first phase shipment of one million doses.

The request was made when Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn spoke on the phone with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on February 18.

In a press release, Cambodia’s foreign ministry said the ministers had discussed Covid-19 vaccinations and the furtherance of international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.

“Cambodia needs to buy five million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and has requested that India make one million doses of their vaccine available for purchase in this first phase,” Sokhonn was quoted as saying.

In response, Jaishankar told Sokhonn that at present, India is experiencing a great demand for Covid-19 vaccines both at home and abroad but that he would relay the request to his prime minister.

On February 5, the Indian government approved the provision of 100,000 doses of vaccines to Cambodia – just two days before the first 600,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine had arrived. Cambodia began its ongoing vaccination campaign on February 10.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said at a February 19 press conference that the authorities were planning to take legal action against any individuals found to be spreading fake news related to vaccinations.

“The health ministry has requested over and over again for people to stop relying on questionable news sources to avoid being tricked into spreading these fabrications. Please don’t share any information on this topic unless you are certain that it is not fake news,” she said.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Kim Santepheap said that in legal terms it could be considered a crime of incitement when people share fabricated information regarding vaccinations.

“Articles 494 and 495 of the Criminal Code states that . . . incitement to disturb social order shall be punishable by imprisonment from six months to two years and a fine of up to four million riel, if the incitement was ineffective,” he explained.

Santepheap called on social media users to be extremely cautious about any Covid-19 information they share so that they do not end up being penalised for disseminating fake news and causing social chaos.

The government plans to buy 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate 10 million people throughout the country. Of the 20 million required doses, it is hoped that 11 million will be provided through donations with the government planning to purchase the other nine million doses.

The health ministry announced on February 21 that Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccinations for all medical professionals, government officials and National Police forces in Phnom Penh and nine provinces will begin on a voluntary basis from February 22.

The ministry has designated a number of referral hospitals in Phnom Penh and nine other provinces for vaccinations.

In the capital, they include Phnom Penh Referral Hospital, Prek Pnov Referral Hospital, Chbar Ampov Referral Hospital, Dangkor Referral Hospital, Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Referral Hospital, Chaktomuk Referral Hospital, King Father’s Referral Hospital and Pochentong Referral Hospital.

In Battambang province, they include Battambang Provincial Referral Hospital, Moung Russey Referral Hospital, Sangke Referral Hospital, Sampov Loun Referral Hospital and Thma Koul Referral Hospital.

In Banteay Meanchey, there is the Mongkol Borei Cambodia-Japan Friendship Hospital, Thma Puok Referral Hospital, Poipet Referral Hospital and Preah Netr Preah Referral Hospital.

In Oddar Meanchey, there is the Provincial Referral Hospital and Anlong Veng Referral Hospital.

In Koh Kong, there is the Provincial Hospital and Sre Ambel Referral Hospital.

In Svay Rieng: Svay Rieng Provincial Hospital; Romeas Hek Referral Hospital; Chipou Referral Hospital; Svay Tiep Referral Hospital; and Romduol Referral Hospital.

In Pursat: Pursat Provincial Hospital; Bakan Referral Hospital; Krakor Referral Hospital; and Kravanh Referral Hospital.

Kep, Pailin and Preah Sihanouk provinces each designated their only provincial referral hospital for vaccinations.

Vandine said vaccinations at all of the above-listed locations will take place every business day from 8am to 5pm.