Updated: September 28, 2021 08:45 AM GMT
An airport worker transports packages of Sinovac vaccine at Phnom Penh International Airport on Sept. 24. (Photo: AFP)
At least 200,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses from Cambodia were delivered today to Laos where the pandemic has struck a second wave that has left authorities struggling to cope.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen sent a letter to Lao premier Phankham Viphavanh regarding the additional Sinovac donation, according to the government-friendly online portal Fresh News.
“In the spirit of our traditional solidarity and friendship … Cambodia would like to present to the government of Laos an additional package of 200,000 doses of vaccines to contribute to your country's endeavor to fight against this deadly disease,” he wrote.
Impoverished, landlocked and isolated, Laos is experiencing a second Covid-19 wave that has so far claimed 16 lives with 22,441 confirmed cases. Nearly all have been recorded since April amid fears of an outbreak of the Delta variant.
A record high 622 cases were recorded on Sept. 27 after the government imposed strict lockdowns, particularly in capital Vientiane, with residents forced to remain indoors unless buying medicine, food or traveling to a hospital.
Some 95 villages across eight districts in the capital have been designated as red zones and there have been reports of food shortages.
Laos hopes to fully vaccinate 50 percent of its adult population by the end of 2021
A villager from Tha Khek district in Kham Mouane province told Radio Free Asia that dry goods such as noodles, canned sardines and rice are nearly gone, while fresh meat and vegetables are no longer available because markets are closed.
“My village right now is still under lockdown and people are not allowed to go out,” she said. “The markets are closed, so there is no buying or selling of anything.”
Hun Sen also said the pandemic had seriously affected all aspects of human life, bringing many challenges not only to public safety and health but also to supply chains and people’s movement.
“In this context, a collective response within the bilateral and multilateral frameworks is indispensable to cope with the pandemic and ensure a rapid and effective post-pandemic recovery.”
Laos hopes to fully vaccinate 50 percent of its adult population by the end of 2021. Like its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, Laos had largely escaped much of the pandemic throughout 2020 and was slow in its vaccination rollout.
Cambodia, however, was quick off the mark and has fully vaccinated 66 percent of its population. A further three million vaccines were expected to arrive from China this week with health authorities extending their inoculation program to children aged 6-11.
China has provided Cambodia with nine million doses of its Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. AstraZeneca has also been procured through the Covax facility with help from the World Health Organization.
Ouch Borith, the Cambodian Foreign Ministry’s secretary of state, said at the handover ceremony for the donations on the Cambodia-Lao international checkpoint Trapang Kreal-Nong Nok Kien, that it reflected the strong solidarity and traditional cooperation between the two leaders.
“I firmly believe that the existing close ties and fruitful cooperation will be further strengthened for the mutual benefits of both peoples, as well as for peace, stability and common prosperity,” he said.
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