Two Deaths Ruled Unrelated to Vaccine, Covid; Two Arrested Over Posts

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Authorities raise awareness of Covid-19 at an intersection in central Phnom Penh on April 15, 2020. (Chorn Chanren/VOD)
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A doctor who died of a heart attack the night after receiving a Sinopharm Covid-19 shot and a migrant worker who died of kidney failure after returning from Thailand did not die because of the vaccine or coronavirus, authorities said this week.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court, meanwhile, also said authorities had arrested two people for incitement over spreading false information about harms from the vaccine.

In a statement dated Tuesday, the Siem Reap Provincial Referral Hospital said Sieng Tola, a 39-year-old doctor at the hospital, volunteered for a Sinopharm shot on Monday and was given the vaccine after no complicating factors were identified. He rested for 30 minutes after the jab as required, and got home around 8 p.m., the statement says.

According to his wife, he had dinner with the family, but before going to sleep complained of chest pain and fatigue, the statement says. Overnight, he experienced shortness of breath and called a doctor friend to help him. He was rushed to the provincial hospital and arrived around 4:45 a.m., but was already dead, it says.

Tola had suffered chest pains in the past and had sleeping problems over the past week, suggesting underlying cardiovascular problems, it says.

“In conclusion: Doctor Sieng Tola passed away due to myocardial infarction and not related to the vaccine injection,” the statement says.

Separately, the Banteay Meanchey provincial administration said in a statement on Tuesday that a 25-year-old man had died after returning from Thailand on February 26.

He was sent for treatment after arriving at the Sangke crossing in Malai district because he was short of breath and unable to walk, the statement says.

He was transferred from the district hospital to the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Hospital in Mongkol Borei district, but died on Monday due to kidney failure and fluid in his lungs, it says.

Similar to some previous cases, the statement says the man smoked and drank alcohol. He also had pneumonia in the past but didn’t get it treated because his family was poor, it adds.

“His death is not due to Covid-19,” the statement says.

In Phnom Penh, two people were arrested on Friday and Saturday for incitement, one for falsely claiming that people were dying from the Covid-19 vaccine, and the other for suggesting the government was playing politics by being in “such a hurry” to obtain a Chinese vaccine that had not been approved by the World Health Organization.

Court spokesperson Y Rin said the first suspect, Thun Chantha, had been sent to pretrial detention in Prey Sar Prison’s Correctional Center 1, and the second, Mey Sophan, to the prison’s Correctional Center 2, both for incitement.

Another summons was issued in Siem Reap province on Saturday against Chhun Vean, a former opposition commune councilor, for claiming a police officer was paralyzed after taking the vaccine.

“The above case is fake news that causes local and international confusion about the Covid-19 vaccine in Cambodia,” the provincial prosecutor says in the summons. “This seriously affects the Royal Government of Cambodia when samdech prime minister is paying close attention to people getting the Covid-19 vaccine. This issue is incitement causing insecurity in society.”

Vean was ordered to appear at the provincial police headquarters’ anti-cybercrime bureau.

According to the Health Ministry and the military, more than 85,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered since the rollout of the country’s vaccination campaign on February 10, with the majority going to soldiers.

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