All foreign experts in HCMC retest negative for coronavirus

By Le Phuong   March 3, 2021 | 11:28 pm PT
All foreign experts in HCMC retest negative for coronavirus
A medical staff takes sample of a resident in HCMC for Covid-19 testing, February 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Le Cam.
A total 952 foreign experts in Ho Chi Minh City tested negative for the novel coronavirus after their samples were retested as part of a mass screening campaign.

Among them were 200 Japanese experts who had entered HCMC since Jan. 1 and are currently working in the city.

Earlier, local authorities required relevant agencies to retest all foreign experts who had entered the city since Jan. 1, prioritizing Japanese experts. The campaign was initiated by the death of "Patient 2229", a 54-year-old Japanese expert working for Mitsui Vietnam Co. Ltd.

The man who had entered Vietnam on Jan. 17 was quarantined at a HCMC hotel and showed two negative test results. He later took a flight to Hanoi and underwent self-quarantine at Somerset West Point on Feb. 1.

On Feb. 13, he was found dead inside his hotel room, with his sample tests returning positive for the virus. Two other people in close contact with him were confirmed positive too.

After gene sequencing, the Health Ministry announced the deceased Japanese was infected with a new virus strain, known as CAL.20C, that had never been reported in Vietnam.

The strain originated from a group of viruses tracked from Europe to New York early in the pandemic and was first detected in California during July. The virus strain has been spreading fast in many U.S. states and has mainly surfaced in South Korea, Taiwan and India.

Under current regulations, foreigners entering HCMC are quarantined for 14 days and tested at least twice during the period.

Vietnam has suspended all inbound international commercial flights since March 2020, though the government has been operating repatriation flights to bring home Vietnamese citizens stuck abroad amid the pandemic, and has allowed special flights to carry foreign experts and investors to the country.

In the country's latest outbreak that began on Jan. 28 after a 55-day clean streak, HCMC has recorded 36 Covid-19 cases, of which 35 are related to the Tan Son Nhat airport and one with coronavirus hotspot Hai Duong Province.

The city has not recorded any community transmission for the past three weeks, with most non-essential services allowed to resume March 1, excluding karaoke parlors, dance clubs, bars and gyms.

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