To Lok Chumteav Or Vandine,
His Excellencies, Lok Chumteav, Ladies, and Gentlemen in the ad-hoc commission in charge of administering vaccinations as well as hospitals and compatriots!
The February-20 community event has so far lasted a month and has yet stopped. We have managed the situation better in Sihanoukville, but Phnom Penh and part of Kandal are still plagued, while Prey Veng and Koh Kong are also in the battling stage. Over the past one month, the number of cases has reached above 1000, more than double the number of cases in more than a year between 2020 and early 2021. This epidemic continues to threaten Phnom Penh and parts of Kandal province, which requires us to pay more attention to the fight against COVID-19 through the measures already in place, which the whole nation knows of the three preventative, and three things not to do measures.
As for the vaccination process, we started the first phase of vaccination with Sinopharm on February 10, and on March 4, we started with the AstraZeneca (COVISHIELD) vaccine. In total, both military and civilian, we injected more than 300,000 people. The Ministry of Health vaccinated 198,447 people using both vaccines, Sinopharm and AstraZeneca. In particular, the military injected 109,756 personnel and injected the second dose for 81,371 personnel.
I want to emphasize that we do not only have these 100,000 military personnel. However, the medical team did not allow some personnel to have vaccination. The number of military and police to be injected is not completed due to the medical team’s prohibition. For the AstraZeneca vaccine (COVISHIELD), I would like to highlight the priority of AstraZeneca vaccine use, which we have to concentrate on people over 60 years old. Still, recently some hospitals in Phnom Penh also provided this vaccine for people under the age of 60, which is not in conformity with the government’s vaccine policy at a time when the epidemic in Phnom Penh was severe.
Shortly, if things go according to plan, the Sinovac vaccine will arrive in Cambodia on March 26, according to the announcement from the Chinese side. We bought 1.5 million doses of Sinovac. Besides, we still have a donation from our Chinese friend for another 400,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, which we hope to receive before the Khmer New Year.
Therefore, I would like to ask the ad-hoc commission in charge of administering vaccinations to prioritize vaccinating people over the age of 60 (with AstraZeneca – Covishield) in Phnom Penh, where they are increasingly vulnerable to COVID-19. According to the statistics I received from Lok Chumteav Or Vandine, the remaining dose for AstraZeneca is now at 111,400 doses which will be given to 55,700 people. In this regard, I have discussed with Lok Chumteav Or Vandine and His Excellency Khuong Sreng (Mayor of Phnom Penh) to set up a campaign for the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 60 and above in Phnom Penh. I urge all hospitals undergoing vaccination not to continue vaccinating AstraZeneca to anyone under the age of 60, except in a case that has already been authorized. This is a priority because in the past, we have seen that as long as people are coming in (for vaccinated), our doctors always provide (AstraZeneca), regardless of the vaccine policy. The Royal Government has allocated Sinopharm for vaccination among people at the age of 59 and lower and AstraZeneca for those at the age of 60 and above.
Although, there are already priorities, for some institutions such as in education and other areas, they should wait for the upcoming Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines. In a few days, you will receive the vaccines according to the priority list. We have yet to obtain enough vaccines for the vaccination, but we must continue our efforts to find vaccines for at least 10 million people. Soon, the vaccine will come one after the other.
Please do not hold to the perception that this is a Chinese vaccine, or that is an Indian vaccine, or even the AstraZeneca (COVISHIELD) vaccines are made in India. This AstraZeneca vaccine is being suspended or stopped being used in some European countries believing it has caused serious health issues. In Cambodia, some think that AstraZeneca is a safe vaccine and the World Health Organization still protects the AstraZeneca vaccine. Nevertheless, our problem is that we do not have enough vaccines to give to everyone simultaneously. Therefore, we need to divide Sinopharm for people aged 59 and under, and for AstraZeneca, it is for people aged 60 and above. Please proceed accordingly, and as far as I know, Sinovac does not seem to have an age limit because Sinovac is being used, including for the President of Indonesia, in Indonesia which is the fourth most populous country in the world. Sinovac will arrive in Cambodia on March 26, 2021, if nothing changes.
Now I would like to suggest to hospitals where the doctor allows the injection of AstraZeneca for people under 59 to stop the injection now. If they have already been injected, second doses should be given to those people. Keep in mind that the vaccine could not be injected with one dose without the second dose. Each person is to be given two doses, so if the first dose is 100,000 doses, equivalent to 100,000 people, an additional 100,000 doses must be provided and made available for them. AstraZeneca vaccine is now available for 55,700 people, according to preliminary statistics. I request Lok Chumteav Or Vandine, His Excellency Khuong Sreng, to conduct a 15-day vaccination campaign in Phnom Penh, and that the vaccination centers must be located at the district level, which is convenient for our old people to receive vaccines and to prohibit younger people from competing to get those vaccines. We will organize the vaccine priority in an orderly manner, with a clear and unambiguous invitation, and without discrimination for political affiliation.
I request His Excellency Khuong Sreng to choose at least one place in each district/khan to avoid older people traveling to a crowded place, which is also vulnerable to the virus’s spread. (We) must work hard to do this work within 15 days, but not from today, but from the time Lok Chumteav Or Vandine and His Excellency Khuong Sreng are ready. Those who come to inject need to be summoned by the authorities to avoid waiting too long going hungry and thirsty at the injection place, as in the past, those who did not and those who did have their names on the list both went and waited. In Phnom Penh, more than 10,000 people have already vaccinated, both AstraZeneca and Sinopharm. Now we add 55,700 more for Phnom Penh and other vulnerable areas in some provinces, we also sent AstraZeneca vaccines for Kandal, Sihanoukville.
I would like to request our teachers, to wait for the upcoming vaccines. However, I would also like to point out that retired teachers, doctors, and civil servants can get the AstraZeneca vaccine because they are already over 60 years old. However, for those under 60 years old, they have to get the Sinopharm vaccine or Sinovac. Please note that these vaccines do not pose any risks. Those injected with Sinopharm are more common than AstraZeneca, but so far, there is no danger to them. Compared to Europe, (it is reported that) AstraZeneca has already killed some people and caused fear. For our country, both Sinopharm and AstraZeneca do not pose any threats to the population’s health […]
I want to reiterate and ask our compatriots to understand the country’s overall situation and to participate in bringing the problem under control, reducing the number of infections and maybe leading to the closing of the February-20 community event. Today is March 19, and less than a month from now is the Khmer New Year. As COVID-19 situation in some provinces have not yet improved, I urge you all to pay attention to the implementation of the Three Don’ts. Even if you have been vaccinated twice, do not be negligent and must continue to practice the Three Protects. Otherwise, the vaccine cannot completely prevent the infection. It can only reduce the risk of infection, but the disease will continue to infect us if we are careless. I am begging you to keep up and maintain our society in this new way of life, and for the risky areas, I suggest that if there is no real need, do not go out. I am referring to at least 70% of the population who do not need to go out and still have food. But for the poor, that is not possible. Even those who can afford it cannot avoid going out. Ultimately, if you do, you must wear a mask properly every time you go out. Mask is a way to prevent infection, and masks have also been distributed to many people in Phnom Penh. Please wear a mask in a public place for protection. Besides, wash the hands and maintain social distancing are necessary.
I always observe that in all the meetings, after keeping the distance while meeting, the social distancing is not practiced correctly when they come to take photos together … If it cannot be avoided, and if there is a need for photo session, the same social distancing should be practiced as the meeting proceeded earlier. But in the past, the whole hour or two of the meeting sessions was ruined by the five minutes of photo session. Therefore, if we cannot avoid taking picture (together), please maintain the social distancing since photographic session was a part of virus transmission in the past.
I beg our people to understand. This understanding is not for me, but for each of you, each family, because when you are sick, I cannot be there and bear the sickness with you, nor can anyone else bear the disease for you. Therefore, my appeal to you all is to protect yourself. If you do not feel sorry for the doctor, for the staff at the treatment center, for your family, at least you should feel sorry for yourself. This means that these protective measures are for the individual, not the family, starting from the individual because as soon as a person is infected, it may spread to the family members.
This is an additional appeal to both those have and have not been vaccinated. They must use these three preventive measures, which are wearing the mask, washing hand and maintaining social distancing, as well as the three things not to do – do not go anywhere crowded, do not go to an enclosed place where there are already proof showing air conditioning as a means for the transmission, and no physical interaction that I just mentioned regarding photography, for all ministers and officers who were taking pictures with guests or with their colleagues while working, which opposes the social distancing purpose.
Finally, I would like to reiterate to Lok Chumteav Or Vandine, the Person in Charge of the ad-hoc commission of Anti-Covid-19 vaccinations, and HE Khuong Sreng, Governor of Phnom Penh, to make a plan to launch a vaccination campaign for at least 55,700 people within 15 days after the preparation is ready. It will take place in all districts, and we must ensure safety for the people when they travel to and from the vaccination centers. They need to be invited in order to keep order. All hospitals do not inject AstraZeneca for people under the age of 60 from now, but only for those who have come for the second dose. This is to be in line with vaccination policies – for Sinopharm recipients under the age of 60 and AstraZeneca for people over 60.
I hope that His Excellencies, Lok Chumteav will make it, and our people in every province and city will understand that we have to give priority to the front line and people in Phnom Penh where we have already injected more than 10,000 people. Now we need to inject more for people in Phnom Penh, as it is the growing infected area of the COVID-19, and the most vulnerable will be people in their 60s. Therefore, as part of the government’s policy, we aim to prioritize people over the age of 60 and the poor. Those who can defend themselves in their villas are requested to delay because our vaccine is not enough for those over 60 years old. Therefore, I would like to suggest that priority be given to the poor areas. Thank you, and please spread this voicemail to all radio stations, TV, and Facebook pages of all relevant entities./.