After Pchum Ben, our people visited many places, and we observed that the number of cases did not increase. On the contrary, the number of cases decreased and the number of deaths was fixed and downward. These are the extensive tests I have mentioned to compatriots before about our efforts to reopen the country in all areas. Even though the transmission has declined, the number of deaths was fixed and with a downward, but the risk is still high, so adapting to living with COVID-19 is inevitable because we do not know when COVID-19 will end.
Our vaccinations campaign has done well, with more than 13.6 million people have been vaccinated so far, accounting for more than 85% of the population. With this number, those who are affected will not lead to seriousness. Most of the people who died due to COVID-19 were seriously ill in the past, and when they arrived at the hospital, they had already started to have serious problems. All in all, we can say that vaccines are a solid foundation for protecting the lives of our people, reducing infections, and if there is an infection, it does not lead to seriousness. Now, after the second dose, it is time to give the third dose according to the area where the injection was given before and after, and it is starting in Phnom Penh. The gap between the second to the third dose is about 4-6 months.
Our privilege is that we have had enough vaccines to vaccinate our people with the help of friendly countries, especially the People’s Republic of China, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, and COVAX. We also bought the vaccine, and the total number of vaccines we have received so far is about 38 million doses for our people. From yesterday’s data, we observed that with the mortality rate of 12, 8 were those unvaccinated. Generally, the death rate of those who have not been vaccinated is very big. They have different reasons not to get the vaccine, which I would suggest for our medical teams, the authorities, and our citizens to strive for the vaccine. Even the vaccination in some provinces has already ended, but we still leave some for our people; we may create a campaign to vaccinate people in the village at home if our people cannot travel to the vaccination place. I ask our authorities at all levels to take care of this matter at the local level.
As for treatment, we have observed that in the past, many patients were sent to Phnom Penh, while the Royal Government has strengthened the capacity of treatment in the provinces and regions that can already respond with treatment for our people in the provinces. Building treatment capacity for COVID-19 in the provinces has been going on for a long time, and it can respond to the problems in the provinces. Still, it is not uncommon for our people not to fully trust the provincial hospitals. As a result, our people have just sent their families, parents, relatives, and friends to Phnom Penh for treatment. Transferring COVID-19 patients to Phnom Penh is not a good way to save their lives. According to the meetings that I held with the provincial governors and other leaders yesterday, this point was found, the provincial health department or the provincial level did not send those patients to the city. It was their family that sends them to Phnom Penh. We can understand that Phnom Penh is more capable than the provinces. Still, in the case of COVID-19, we have already strengthened for more than a year regarding the ability to treat it in the provinces with the participation of doctors from the central committee.
I ask for attention; according to medical research, doctors have shown that if this patient travels a long way in a car with air conditioning, it will worsen this patient. The patient, even if those with regular health travel a few hours by car to the hospital, makes the patient’s condition severe and upon the arrival at the hospital, their condition will also be challenging to recover. At this point, I would like to appeal to our compatriots to trust the provincial hospitals, which we have worked hard to build to strengthen the medical capacity of the hospitals in the provinces. Doing this is to avoid the jampacked of patients in Phnom Penh, but that is a secondary issue; the biggest problem is protecting the lives of patients to prevent accidents due to irresponsible delivery and will make the condition worse. Sending them to Phnom Penh is not necessary since the province can also treat the disease.
On the other hand, about the infection at the current level … in the past, when there was infection in one village, we had to close the whole village and took samples across the village or throughout the factory, for example. Now we do not do that anymore, but we set up a sampling site. When in doubt, each individual must be aware of their responsibilities to go to those places organized by the health department. When the health department finds that you are positive, the health department also has to check and discuss with the patient to decide whether the patient can undergo home treatment or at the hospital according to whether it is a severe or mild condition.
On this point, I already mentioned concerning the treatment at the hospital in the province or Phnom Penh, and I would like to refer to the treatment at home, which is the responsibility of the family and the whole community in common. At this point, we have implemented quarantine at home and have been involved in community outreach to assist in the screening, prevention, and treatment of the patient when the house is in the same village and help each other in times of need. Please avoid discrimination that leads to shameful patients. In some places, they have developed a culture of helping each other since last year when the community transmission has taken place along with quarantining, and our people have come together to help take care of those who are victims. Now, in the case of home treatment, it is no different than the quarantine; let our brothers and sisters take care of each other in arranging home treatment to keep an eye out and support the family in the village where the patient lives. If we do this well, our country will be united between the sick and the normal. It’s like a wheel and spoke; sometimes we are sick, sometimes they are sick. Caring for each other will then create a culture of sharing, a culture of helping each other in difficult times, because we encourage home treatment, it is a great way to reduce hospital admissions and isolate from family (to avoid spreading to them). If encouraged and supported by the neighbors, it will make the patient feel better and recover faster.
I want to emphasize that those who recovered from COVID-19 will later become a great source of anti-COVID-19. In some countries, people who recovered from COVID-19 are being used as a serviceman to serve those infected with the disease. Since you recovered from COVID-19, you have established antibodies against it. Therefore, discrimination against a COVID-19 patient is wrong. They need to be treated, after they are recovered, they will be the ones to help those who have not been contracted the disease yet.
So hopefully, all of our work, both in Phnom Penh and in the provinces, for instance home treatment, will go well so that we can begin to learn to live with COVID-19 and that we will be able to reopen our country. We are at a time when agriculture and industry are doing well, and the service sector is likely to be reopened, as we had tested during Pchum Ben. On Saturday and Sunday, we had about 140,000 people traveled domestically. Then, we can begin to open more services to reopen our country in all areas. Schools also need to be reopened so that our children and grandchildren can get into school. Whether with the closure or opening, there are still new cases. We have given two doses and started booster dose, we now have more than 10 million doses in stock for those who have not injected and those who are in need of the third jab. For the booster shots, we have already injected more than 1 million people according to the plan across the country. In Phnom Penh, there are almost half a million people who have already injected.
Please do your best to do what I have just mentioned. First, avoid bringing patients to Phnom Penh for treatment, as it poses a risk for patients, and keep trust on provincial hospitals … However, referring patients to Phnom Penh by car with air conditioning or without air conditioning is a risk for patients. So try to keep them treated in the provinces.
(Second) in the case of testing, we do not use the method of testing one by one, testing the whole village, or placing one village in quarantine any more. Those who have suspicion should be responsible and go to have his/her sample taken, and when the doctor finds him/her positive, he will consider whether the patient should be sent to the hospital or give medicine for home treatment. And this home treatment also requires the participation of people in the village to help take care of the patients to avoid discouraging them, which could lead this patient to recover faster with the encouragement from community. We should develop a culture of helping each other in difficult times of COVID-19, avoid discrimination against the patient or the family of COVID-19 patient; while considering those who recovered from COVID-19 as a force in protecting other from COVID-19 since they now have immunity.
On the other hand, if you have not been vaccinated with first or second dose, you must take them. I also asked the authorities and the medical team to conduct a geographical examination in a remote area that has not yet been vaccinated fully. Please inject the disabled patient and others who are not able to get the vaccine by going to them directly at their village/home.
I admire the grandchildren who injected at such a fast pace compared to the elderly. Now children between the ages of 6 and 12 have been injected more than 95 percent, which is a high number, even if they have injected last, but still inject in large numbers. So do not hesitate with the vaccination; so far, we have not had any victims from getting the vaccine; hopefully, we will all overcome this situation, which sees the infection rate and death rate drop. We have to make this decline continue, even if we do not dare to say zero COVID-19 death or zero COVID-19 transmission, but the number of infections and the number of deaths must decrease for us to reopen the country. We need to live with COVID-19 on a new trajectory with Three do’s and Three don’ts and avoid discrimination of the COVID-19 patients. Instead, we must be united in the fight against COVID-19 to achieve socio-economic openness in all areas, with efforts to implement the Three Do’s and Three Don’ts, accepting the vaccines, eradicating discriminatory diseases and creating a culture of solidarity as we go through this pandemic. I wish all the monks and compatriots all the best, happiness, and prosperity. Thank you./.