Cambodia struggles with Alpha variant as Delta sweeps across Southeast Asia

Cambodia recorded fewer than 500 cases and zero Covid-related deaths last year, but an Alpha outbreak has pushed its caseload to around 73,000. As the country ramps up its vaccination effort, the highly infectious Delta variant is also a cause for concern.

When fully vaccinated Cambodian boxing star Eh Phouthong came down with Covid-19 two weeks ago, he needed a continuous supply of oxygen and used a new tank almost every hour for the first 24 hours, according to his wife, Taing Somaly.

But the 46-year-old former boxer-turned-coach, who also has heart disease, got better after about a week of treatment. “He’s not feeling sick any more,” Somaly said. “Doctors told me without a vaccine, his condition could be even worse.”

Since Cambodia launched its inoculation campaign in February, more than 60 per cent of the country’s 10 million adults have received at least one vaccine shot. Some 44 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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