We Are Racing against New Variants: Act Today So No Regrets Tomorrow, says WHO

AKP Phnom Penh, The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia has issued a press release expressing its concerns over the current COVID-19 situation in the Kingdom as the Delta variant is now present in local community, thus calling on people to act together to avoid future regrets.

The pandemic is far from over, said the press release made public last night, adding that the numbers of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths remain high in Cambodia, which is in stage 2 (localised community) transmission, with the virus widely circulating in the community. The Delta variant has been detected amongst migrants returning through land borders and is now in the local community. The Delta variant spreads faster than other known variants; it is the most transmissible variant known to date. In many countries, it has rapidly replaced other circulating variants leading to an increase in cases and hospitalisations. The Delta variant is causing devastation globally, and more variants – with the potential to be even more dangerous – will emerge if we do not suppress the virus.

“We are racing against new variants. We must act today, and we must act fast to have no regrets tomorrow,” said Dr. Li Ailan, WHO Representative to Cambodia.

According to the press release, WHO Cambodia is closely working with Ministry of Health and partners to implement the RGC’s COVID-19 response strategy. The government continues to take all necessary actions to suppress transmission and seeks the participation from everyone to adhere to personal and public safety measures and importantly promote the same within their communities.

WHO has been advising and focusing on support in a number of important areas for a swift response: (1) suppress transmission through early detection, situation analysis and targeted non-pharmaceutical interventions including combined public health and social measures; (2) accelerate COVID-19 vaccination and ensure prioritisation of health care workers, elderly, individuals with underlying disease and other vulnerable and high risk populations; and (3) increase patient care capacity and pathway, especially ICU capacity and monitoring of the ‘red line’.

Cambodia is at a critical moment. The Government has taken some tough decisions including the lockdowns in eight border provinces and the launch of the national campaign as important steps in fighting the pandemic, especially in response to the Delta variant.

No single measure can suppress transmission, it will be an effective combination of risk-based public health and social measures that will be required. All 3C settings and activities should be paused unless the risk can be significantly mitigated and population-based measures such as stopping non-essential travel, and restricting gatherings (especially indoor) must be fully implemented while allowing safer businesses to continue. Putting risk mitigation measures in place in the business sector and workplaces is essential to ensure safe reopening of businesses.

Effective implementation and good public compliance will determine the success of these interventions. It is essential to monitor, learn and adjust the measures based on the epidemiological situation and effectiveness of interventions.

“I urge everyone to take every necessary and recommended action to protect themselves, their families and others from getting infected by the virus. Our collective actions will determine our success or failure in fighting against COVID-19. We must stand together and act together to save lives, protect the health system and minimise disruption to the society,” said Dr. Li Ailan.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has progressed well in Cambodia and remains a key strategy. To date, all the WHO emergency use listing vaccines protect against developing severe disease, hospitalisation and death when faced with any of the variants of concern, including the Delta variant. This is a good sign, but full doses need to be administered and it is important to remember that vaccines do not provide full (100 percent) protection so people must continue to follow other public health and social measures.

WHO strongly recommends that everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, continue to follow preventive behaviours such as wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, wash hands with soap/hand rub frequently, avoid crowded, confined and closed spaces, avoid gatherings, and stay at home if you feel sick and seek medical assistance from nearest health facility immediately.

WHO commends the tireless efforts of Royal Government of Cambodia and people in Cambodia and continues to support ongoing response in strong collaboration with partners to suppress the transmission of COVID-19 and minimise social disruption in Cambodia.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press