Cambodia removes outdoor mask mandate over high vaccination rates

PHNOM PENH, April 26– Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Tuesday lifted the mandate to wear masks outdoor after vast majority of the Southeast Asian country’s population have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic. No new infections were reported in capital Phnom Penh for the first time in more than a year. Hun Sen credited a strong…

PHNOM PENH, April 26 (Xinhua) — Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Tuesday lifted the mandate to wear masks outdoor after vast majority of the Southeast Asian country’s population have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A mask mandate at all public places and open spaces across the country is lifted. However, masks in closed spaces remain mandatory,” he said in a special voice message.

People can make their own decisions to wear a mask or not at all outdoor places, but the requirement is still in place for air-conditioned indoor places such as meeting rooms and movie theaters, he said.

The prime minister expressed his hope that the decision, which took effect immediately, would ease financial burdens for the Cambodian people, who spent an estimated 3 million U.S. dollars a month buying masks.

The Southeast Asian nation reported only two new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday with zero new fatalities, bringing the kingdom’s confirmed total cases since the pandemic began to 136,230 including 3,056 deaths, the Ministry of Health said.

No new infections were reported in capital Phnom Penh for the first time in more than a year.

Hun Sen credited a strong vaccination rate for fewer infections, saying that so far, over 93 percent of the country’s 16 million population have received at least one shot and 88.5 percent have been fully vaccinated with two required doses.

Also, 51.7 percent have received a third dose and 9 percent have taken a fourth dose.

Most of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the country’s vaccination programs are China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.

Meanwhile, Hun Sen renewed his call on the public to receive their booster shots, saying that the booster jabs were essential to providing them with stronger protection against the disease.

With its high vaccination coverage, Cambodia has fully resumed its socioeconomic activities and reopened its borders to vaccinated travelers without quarantine since last November.

Hun Sen said the kingdom’s economy was recovered in 2021 with a positive growth rate of about 3 percent after suffering severe impact from the pandemic in 2020.

“This recovery reflects the active participation of Cambodian people, national and international organizations, development partners as well as countries of friendship, together with the effort of the government, especially in the national vaccination campaign to build herd immunity across the country,” he said.

“Cambodia’s economy is projected to grow by more than 5 percent in 2022 and will be able to return to the path of strong growth of the pre-COVID-19 crisis era,” he added.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said COVID-19 vaccines have protected people’s lives, stabilized the health system and helped restore the country’s economy.

“The royal government of Cambodia has made the correct decision to choose China as a strategic supplier of COVID-19 vaccines so that’s why Cambodia has enough vaccines for its people,” he said. Enditem

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