Health Official Says Daily Case Count Is Only Symptomatic Infections

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Health Ministry spokesperson Youk Sambath at the Phnom Penh International Airport on October 14, 2021. (AKP)
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The country’s daily Covid-19 case count reflects the number of patients who are symptomatic, said a Health Ministry spokesperson, suggesting that those who are positive and asymptomatic are not included in case numbers.

The health spokesperson, Youk Sambath, was speaking at the Phnom Penh International Airport where she was receiving a new shipment of Covid-19 vaccines. Sambath said that the country was seeing around 200 to 280 cases a day but these were only patients with symptoms of the disease.

“Every day, in news reports published daily in the media … we found only between 200 to 270 to 280 cases, meaning that infections with symptoms are only between 200 to more than 200,” said the spokesperson.

“So, there is no surge of infections that cause serious symptoms because our people have been vaccinated.”

Cambodia has turned increasingly opaque in its reporting of Covid-19 cases. The Health Ministry stopped reporting provincial case totals in May, with several provinces also ending the reporting of cases and deaths within their jurisdictions.

Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen instructed officials to stop using rapid tests unless someone had Covid-19 symptoms, with the case count dropping dramatically from above 900 to around 200 cases a day after he made the missive.

The drop in daily cases so far has not corresponded to a similar decrease in daily deaths, with the daily deaths-to-cases ratio jumping to above 10 percent on certain days in the last two weeks. The global death rate is just a little over 2 percent.

Sambath spoke about Cambodia’s high vaccination rates and said most cases they were detecting were not serious and people were being treated at home for mild symptoms like a sore throat.

“Similarly, at the factories, when garment workers returned from Pchum Ben they conducted rapid tests and also found some positive cases but they didn’t show any symptoms. It is normal. So, they were treated at home.”

Sambath encouraged Cambodians to get the vaccine to ensure people were protected from the disease. She said the country had no shortfall of vaccines with the country having acquired more than 36 million doses to date.

The country has 85 percent of its population with at least one dose of a vaccine, and began a public campaign to give people third-dose booster shots this week.

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