Cambodia launches Covid-19 vaccinations with shots for PM's sons, ministers

Prime Minister Hun Sen's eldest son, Hun Manet receiving a dose of vaccine at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Feb 10, 2021.
Prime Minister Hun Sen's eldest son, Hun Manet receiving a dose of vaccine at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Feb 10, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - Cambodia launched its coronavirus inoculation drive on Wednesday (Feb 10), using 600,000 vaccine doses donated by China, with the sons of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen and government ministers among the first recipients.

The South-east Asian nation of about 16 million has managed to limit the spread of the disease, reporting just 478 infections and no deaths, although a rare cluster of cases emerged in November.

Mr Hun Sen had vowed to take the first dose, but later said that at 68 he was above the age to get the vaccine, made by Sinopharm.

His sons and the justice and environment ministers were among the first to get it instead.

"I feel even more confident that I have a defence system in my body against Covid," said Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Deputy Commander Hun Manet, the Prime Minister's eldest son, flashing a thumbs-up sign at Calmette Hospital in the capital Phnom Penh.

Doctors had advised Dy Comm Hun Manet not to eat seafood or drink alcohol after taking the vaccine, he told reporters, urging them to also get shots.

China's first consignment of 600,000 doses had arrived in Phnom Penh on Sunday by special airplane, most of them earmarked for health workers and the military.

One of Asia's poorest countries, Cambodia has been an important ally of China in recent years.

Beijing has said it will send one million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Cambodia, sufficient for 500,000 people.

"We were worried that we might infect family members with the virus, now there is the vaccine as the defence wall," Justice Minister Keut Rith said after his injection.

"A vaccine is the best defence solution for us, for family and the community."