COVID-19: 2022 Starts on a Fine Line

People drive vehicles on Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 17, 2021. (Photo by Xinhua)

Two years ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the world, bringing it to a stop, Cambodia first lived as if in a bubble, unaffected by the coronavirus.

Some people here had puffed out their chest, nearly making fun of the disarray it was causing in countries known as developed while this country—a small developing country—was displaying an arrogant stance in the field of health, even though its economy was severely affected especially by the total and brutal interruption of the flow of international tourists.  

Then came the Feb. 20 community outbreak in 2021. Bubble over. The country’s population then went through, as elsewhere, quarantines and other restrictions. The mass vaccination policy made it possible to contain the pandemic until, at the end of 2021, there could at last be days without deaths due to the coronavirus.

To date, according to official data, the country has registered some 120,000 cases of contamination and deplored the death of 3,000 persons due to COVID-19.

 A few weeks after Prime Minister Hun Sen had declared the Feb. 20 outbreak over and announced that the time to return to nearly-normal life had come, it seems that the country is again finding itself in a bubble. The cases of contamination due to the Omicron variant have skyrocketed throughout the world, including in neighboring countries, while here, nothing or very little.

More contagious than its predecessors, this variant seems, however, less pathogenic and lethal. That said, since it is affecting a great deal more people, it may cause health services to be overwhelmed and major social disorganization.   

Some specialists believe that, once this variant is gone, the pandemic may regress and, more importantly, that the coronavirus may continue to evolve into less virulent variants to the extent of only provoking mild cold-type symptoms or classic cough.

However, others, especially the World Health Organization, fear the opposite.     

In short, as always, the uncertainty that is the hallmark of this pandemic. 

Omicron hovers round the country but has not settled in it. Let’s be happy without bragging about it. Bubbles burst as we have experienced.   


Related Articles