Da Nang coronavirus outbreak could be 'under control' by month end: ministry

By Viet Tuan   August 14, 2020 | 09:47 pm PT
Da Nang coronavirus outbreak could be 'under control' by month end: ministry
Soldiers spray disinfectants in Son Tra District, Da Nang, on August 3, 2020 to prevent possible Covid-19 infections. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.
The Covid-19 outbreak in hotspot Da Nang "is expected to be brought under control" by the end of August, the Ministry of Health said.

The ministry is collaborating with authorities in Da Nang City and neighboring Quang Nam Province to speed up the process of taking samples from the community for mass testing, it said at a meeting on Friday with the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control.

Da Nang, a popular tourism destination with a population of around 1.1 million, recorded Vietnam's first local Covid-19 transmission in over three months on July 25.

The city immediately began contact tracing and mass testing, and announced social distancing from July 28, requiring residents to stay home and banning public gatherings, among other measures.

The ministry said it has sent best personnel from many hospitals to Da Nang and Quang Nam to assist with the Covid-19 fight, but the outbreak has affected the treatment of some severely ill patients, which explains the growing number of Covid-19 fatalities of late, it said.

There have been 22 deaths so far, mostly of elderly patients with underlying conditions like kidney failure and diabetes.

Meanwhile, experts are investigating recently detected Covid-19 clusters in northern Hai Duong Province to see if the novel coronavirus strains found there and in Da Nang are the same, acting Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said.

These clusters are "worrying" and a sign that the community is still not vigilant enough in preventing infections, Long said.

On Wednesday a 63-year-old man in Hai Duong was diagnosed with Covid-19. His infection has not been traced back to any known source and is not associated with Da Nang, authorities said.

Three more people who had come into contact with him have also been diagnosed with the disease.

Provincial authorities have announced 15 days of social distancing in Hai Duong Province's capital, Hai Duong Town, from Friday, requiring them to stay at home and not gather in public, among other measures.

The ministry would help with contact tracing and collecting Covid-19 samples for testing, Long said.

'No more peaceful times'

Vietnam should expect Covid-19 to continue to break out in various places, the steering committee said, warning there would be "no more peaceful times."

The committee has advised Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to issue directives for taking further preventive measures like promoting better response and alert levels and having plans and resources in place to combat new outbreaks.

The pandemic could only be beaten once the country gets either a cure or a vaccine, and Vietnam is speeding up research for vaccine production, it said. "Importing vaccines and vaccinating people could take months."

While Vietnam is expected to develop its own Covid-19 vaccine by the end of next year, the health ministry has registered to buy it from Russia, the ministry said on Friday.

The vaccine, called Sputnik V in honor of the world's first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, was granted regulatory approval after less than two months of human trials, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

While he claimed that the vaccine "works quite effectively," creates "strong immunity" and "passed all the necessary checks," global experts have cast doubts on its safety and effectiveness without full trial data.

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