Adolescents to Be Vaccinated, Businesses Advised to Randomly Test Workers

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People queue for vaccines on the street in front of Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey primary school on May 11, 2021. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)

Cambodia’s vaccination campaign will be extended to adolescents as young as 12 for greater immunity and with an eye on reopening schools, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Friday, as a government document also advised businesses to randomly test employees for Covid-19.

The document, signed by Hun Sen on Thursday, advises random tests for 5 to 10 percent of an institution’s workforce every one to two weeks.

It lays out “principles” for Covid-19 testing by state and private institutions, and says it applies to private companies, factories, workshops, construction sites, markets, banks, entertainment venues and essential business operations.

Those in charge of the institutions are to implement a number of policies, including a plan for the periodic random testing “to find the presence of Covid,” it says.

Government spokesperson Phay Siphan referred questions to the Health Ministry. Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine said she was busy.

Covid-19 deaths and infections in the country are continuing at peak rates, with 27 deaths and 889 new cases announced on Friday. However, in recent months, the Health Ministry and several municipal and provincial administrations have concealed the locations and other details of Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, in a speech on Friday, Hun Sen said the country’s vaccination campaign — which had reached 5.4 million people so far — would be extended to an estimated 2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17.

The decision was made “with thorough consideration of the social environment and the future of children and youth, in particular focusing on welfare related to the reopening of schools, which is a huge loss for the world as well as Cambodia in training human resources where schools have been closed for so long,” he said.

Children’s NGOs have this year called for the reopening of schools, especially for younger children, saying children were less at risk of Covid-19.

“When we can inject vaccines for the children and youth, we can at least open up secondary schools,” Hun Sen said.

The vaccinations for adolescents will start in Phnom Penh and Kandal province then move onto Preah Sihanouk and other provinces, he said.

A study published in the Lancet medical journal late last month says the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine could be safe for children as young as 3.

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