PM: Vaccines symbol of unity

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
People come to get the fifth dose of Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district on June 9. Heng Chivoan

Prime Minister Hun Sen considers Covid-19 vaccines a symbol of national unity and the independence of the Kingdom, as people from all walks of life can receive them regardless of their political affiliations and religious beliefs.

Speaking on June 13 at the graduation ceremony of more than 2,000 students at the Royal School of Administration, he said Cambodia did not discriminate against any of the people. What matters, he stressed, is people’s lives.

“[The] policy of delegating power to the sub-national level has enabled the Kingdom to bring the pandemic under control and overcome the virus,” he said.

June 13 was the 38th day in which Cambodia detected zero new Covid-19 cases. Regardless, the premier renewed his calls for people to remain vigilant and continue to get booster shots, reiterating that the government would never charge for vaccines.

“We contained the Alfa, Delta and Omicron variants, but we do not know what strains may appear in the future. We must remain vigilant and avert new outbreaks,” he added.

According to the Ministry of Health, as of June 12 Cambodia had vaccinated 94.10 per cent of the estimated population of 16 million. More than 9.3 million people had received their third dose and over 2.6 million had gotten their fourth. More than 100,000 have come forward and received their fifth dose.

Hun Sen said it was important for people to keep their vaccinations up to date.

“I call on local officials to continue educating the public and explaining the importance of the third, fourth and fifth doses to them. There is no shortage of vaccines – we have purchased more than 104 million doses in preparation for using them in the years 2024-2026,” he said.

Hun Sen added that more than 11 million doses were currently in stock, with more due to arrive in the Kingdom, including 15 million doses from China, 5.5 million from the US and 500,000 from Australia.

Or Vandine, head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, reminded people on June 9 that Covid-19 is still present in the world, even if no numbers were recorded locally.

She urged the public to get vaccinated to maintain herd immunity and keep communities strong.

She said that if herd immunity declines, it would give the virus a chance to spread again. That could see a return to the situation the Kingdom experienced last year.

Hun Sen also told the EU delegation to Cambodia that certain opposition groups had spoken highly of Cambodia in English or French, but in Khmer, had insulted him personally.

He rejected an accusation that Cambodia had arrested between 600 and 700 people in connection with the Law on Measures to Prevent the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Serious, Dangerous and Contagious Diseases.

“I will meet the person who made the accusation in July. I will ask where the person got this information from,” he said, without offering a hint as to whom he was referring.