Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday announced the “end” of the February 20 community transmission, which has resulted in more than 3,000 reported deaths, even as the Omicron variant of the virus registered two more cases in the country on Sunday.
The government has classified three separate community transmission events since last year based on when infections — that then led to wider-spread contagion — were first detected. The February 20 transmission has resulted in the most cases and deaths, with case numbers now in single digits.
Monday’s Covid-19 figures from the Ministry of Health revealed zero deaths from the disease and seven new cases. Case numbers have plummeted after the prime minister ordered officials to scale back rapid testing and use it more judiciously.
Hun Sen said on Facebook that Cambodia’s successful immunization program had helped reduce the number of active cases and deaths in the country. He also thanked countries, like China, the U.S. and the U.K. for providing vaccines to Cambodia.
“Today, I announce the end of February 20, but it does not mean that the announcement to end the campaign against Covid-19. We just announced the end of the February 20 event, the fight against Covid-19 will be ongoing work,” he said.
He urged citizens to continue to remain vigilant against the respiratory disease.
Hun Sen and the government have been eager to restart the country’s economy and tourism sectors, even dropping all quarantine requirements for incoming passengers. However, Phnom Penh governor Khoung Sreng used Covid-19 as an excuse to order the end to a strike over alleged labor rights abuses by the NagaWorld casino company.
The announcement comes as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has spread to as many as 77 countries, according to the World Health Organization, which has said the variant is highly transmissible. Pharmaceutical companies and the WHO are still investigating existing vaccines’ efficacy against Omicron.
The Ministry of Health announced two new cases of Omicron on Sunday, a total of four cases have now been linked to the variant. Hun Sen last week asked people to be safe but said the country could not be closed for the new variant.
“Please don’t panic. Vigilance is needed, but don’t panic,” he said. “You cannot close the country. Covid-19 can kill hundreds or thousands of us … but don’t forget that if a Covid economy erupts, all 16 million people will be affected.”
The Health Ministry also announced a nationwide booster dose campaign for children aged 12 to 17, starting January 3 next year.