After 5 Deaths in 2 Days, Ministry Warns of Rapid Declines With Covid-19

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A woman walks by the Health Ministry in Phnom Penh on January 29, 2020 (Panha Chorpoan/VOD)
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Some of the country’s Covid-19 patients are developing respiratory problems too quickly for doctors to address, the Health Ministry said on Thursday as it announced five deaths in two days from the disease, including a 28-year-old woman.

Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine reiterated on Thursday that the latest outbreak was likely caused by the B.1.1.7 variant, and described how some patients were seeing their conditions rapidly deteriorate.

“The attacks [on the body] have happened so fast, and it can immediately cause respiratory problems and even death, and [doctors] cannot help in time,” Vandine said.

In its morning update, the ministry announced three deaths, two 56-year-old women as well as the 28-year-old. The 28-year-old had type 1 diabetes and pre-existing kidney problems, the ministry said. All suffered damage to their lungs, it said.

In the afternoon, the ministry said two more had died from Covid-19: Cambodian women aged 67 and 70.

“We’ve thought that the savageness of the [disease’s] attack is related to the new virus variant,” but the hypothesis had not been confirmed, Vandine said. Twelve cases had been genetically sequenced in the “February 20” cluster and found to be the B.1.1.7 variant, she said.

The B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the U.K., has been linked to higher transmission and mortality rates.

Twenty Covid-19 patients have now died in the country, according to Health Ministry announcements, though only 16 of the deaths have been attributed to the disease.

The country has seen 2,477 total cases and 1,240 recoveries, leaving 1,217 currently active cases after accounting for the two latest deaths.

In Phnom Penh, authorities have announced an 8 p.m. curfew as they work to try to bring the outbreak under control.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Center for Development and Peace, said he hoped health authorities would take best practices learned from other countries’ experiences in dealing with Covid-19 and its variants.

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