2 mln more China-donated COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Cambodia, greeted by PM

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An aircraft carrying 2 million more doses of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine donated by China arrived in the Cambodian capital on Wednesday.

The vaccine arrival was greeted by Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the Phnom Penh International Airport.

The event was livestreamed on the prime minister's official Facebook page, the state-run National Television of Cambodia (TVK), Fresh News, the kingdom's largest online news provider, and several other TV channels.

Speaking at a ceremony held at the airport, Hun Sen said that with China's timely and regular vaccine supply, Cambodia has achieved herd immunity earlier than originally planned and recently reopened all sectors in the country.

From Monday, the Southeast Asian country allowed quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated international travelers. Under the new scheme, the travelers will be free to visit anywhere in the country if they test negative for COVID-19 72 hours prior to departure and have a negative result of a rapid test upon arrival.

"Cambodia has become one of the most fully COVID-19 vaccinated countries in the region and around the world, that has achieved a solid herd immunity," Hun Sen said. "Cambodia's success in its COVID-19 vaccination campaign is inseparable from China's vaccine supply."

The Southeast Asian country has so far got a total of 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from three sources, through bilateral procurement, the World Health Organization (WHO)-led COVAX Facility, and donations. Of the total, over 90 percent were bought from or donated by China.

The prime minister added that to date, Cambodia has administered at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 14.08 million people, or 88 percent of its 16-million population. Of them, 13.2 million, or 82.6 percent of the total population, are fully vaccinated with two required shots, and 2.07 million, or 13 percent, have got a third or booster shot.

Hun Sen said Chinese jabs have protected people's health and saved the lives of Cambodians, while helping Cambodia recover its economy in the new normal.

"China is a true, ironclad friend who always provides timely support to Cambodia in difficult times without any strings attached," he said.

Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian said it was the seventh batch of COVID-19 vaccines donated by China to Cambodia.

"Now, we're pleased to see that Cambodia has achieved one of the highest vaccination rates in world, and the number of confirmed cases has dropped to double digits, and most of them are mildly ill," he said.

The ambassador said he was elated to see Phnom Penh has returned to its energetic former self as businesses have reopened, and that he hoped the kingdom's socio-economic development would be back on course soon.

Lim Heng, vice president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said the Chinese donation is a new testament to the ironclad friendship between the two countries.

"A friend in need is a friend indeed," he told Xinhua. "Cambodia-China joint COVID-19 fight is a good example for cooperation between countries. Undoubtedly, it will help raise bilateral relationship to a new high and our people-to-people bonds will be further strengthened."

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Phnom Penh-based Asian Vision Institute, said China's vaccine donation highlighted a close friendship between the countries, promising support and joint efforts in combating COVID-19 as well as in post-pandemic economic recovery.

"With China's vaccines, Cambodia is able to accomplish the nationwide vaccination program, achieve a strong herd immunity and reopen the country to fully vaccinated foreigners," he told Xinhua. "Cambodia is now safer to conduct business activities and traveling in the new normal." 

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