Vandine: Mu variant’s arrival to Cambodia may be inevitable

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A medical worker visits a Covid-19 patient receiving treatment at home in Daun Penh district on Tuesday. Heng Chivoan

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine expressed concerns that the Mu variant of Covid-19 could be imported to Cambodia in the same manner that the Alpha and Delta variants were previously.

Speaking to reporters during a ceremony to wrap up the vaccination campaign in Svay Rieng province on September 13, Vandine said Mu has not been detected yet in Cambodia, but it has already reached around 40 countries worldwide.

“It will be no different from Alpha or Delta. Our people will contract it if they don’t follow the preventive health measures. I think Mu’s presence here may be inevitable, just like Alpha and Delta. We never had those before and then the infections began to spread one after another,” she said.

Vandine, who is also head of the national Covid-19 vaccination committee, said Cambodia’s public health systems have plans in place to deal with new variants and the health ministry will continue to be able to control the Covid-19 situation and prevent it from deteriorating further.

“I beg our compatriots to be always vigilant. I appeal again and again that they must always protect themselves. It is of utmost importance to prevent the disease at the individual and community levels,” Vandine said.

According to Vandine, Mu is currently being studied by the World Health Organisation to determine its characteristics. They are studying its transmission capacity to determine whether it is as contagious as Alpha and Delta.

However, the issue of most concern is whether or not Mu is able to get past our current vaccines more easily than the other variants due to some of its mutations. That question remains unanswered for now, pending further study.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany received booster shots on September 14, joining the nearly 780,000 people across the country who have been vaccinated with third doses.

“Every one of us will get a third dose according to our plans. We can get it between four and six months after our second dose,” he said.

As of September 13, Cambodia had vaccinated more than 97.5 per cent of the target adult population of 10 million, with that goal expected to be 100 per cent completed within the next two weeks, according to the health ministry.