Cambodia urges fast action to avert coronavirus 'tragedy'

FILE PHOTO: A garment factory worker receives a China's Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at an industrial park in Phnom Penh
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PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian health authorities called on Thursday for urgent public action to slow the spread of the coronavirus and avert a health and economic tragedy, after the country reported a daily record 39 COVID-19 deaths.

One of the poorest countries in Asia, Cambodia last year had one of the world's smallest coronavirus caseloads, but an outbreak detected in late February has seen cases jump from just a few hundred to 64,611, with 1,025 deaths.

Or Vandine, secretary of state and health ministry spokeswoman, said the country needs to act fast.

"We need to be vigilant and proactive in joining action together to implement the preventive measures to suppress the COVID-19 transmission in Cambodia ASAP in order to avoid the public health and economic tragedy," Or Vandine said on Twitter.

Or Vandine said more half of the 10 million people targeted for inoculation had already been fully vaccinated and that authorities were considering a third dose. It has been using the vaccines of Sinovac, Sinopharm and AstraZeneca.

Cambodia will also temporarily close its border with neighboring Vietnam from July 18. Vietnam is currently reporting its highest COVID-19 infection numbers.

The World Health Organization representative in Cambodia, Li Ailan, on Tuesday said a disaster could be averted by following protocols.

"New infection may be inevitable, but a #disaster is preventive. We have a window of opportunity to prevent a disaster," she said on Twitter. ⁦

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Martin Petty)

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