The first 600,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines donated by China to Cambodia arrived in Phnom Penh on Sunday by special plane, with the doses earmarked to vaccinate health workers and the military.
The Southeast Asian nation of about 16 million people is one of the least impacted by the coronavirus, with just 474 infections and no deaths. But it saw a rare cluster of cases in November.
One of Asia’s poorest countries, Cambodia has been an important ally to China in recent years.
Beijing has said it will send 1 million Sinopharm vaccines to Cambodia, which will be used to inoculate 500,000 people.
Australia said on Feb. 1 that it will provide a $28 million grant for World Health Organization-approved vaccines in Cambodia.
In a welcome speech at Phnom Penh’s international airport, Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked China for the vaccines.
“Good friends help each other in times of need, in this sense, and this vaccine aid is another important new testimony that reflects the steel ties and strong cooperation between our country and our people, Cambodia and China,” Hun Sen said in a speech broadcast on national television.
The 600,000 doses will be equally split to vaccinate army officials and health workers in the country, the defense ministry has said.
Hun Sen, who had said earlier that he would get the first shot, said this week that he will not do that because at 68, he is over the age for Sinopharm.