New Covid-19 outbreaks can be more devastating, minister warns

By Le Nga   April 25, 2021 | 03:00 pm GMT+7
New Covid-19 outbreaks can be more devastating, minister warns
People wait in line before being vaccinated against coronavirus disease in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 22, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Cindy Liu.
Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long warned Sunday that Vietnam faces a great risk of imported Covid-19 infections with double mutant variants.

"In the last 24 hours, looking at the Covid-19 situation worldwide and in the region, we are anxious about possible Covid-19 infections from the outside," Long said.

With India recording more than 340,000 new Covid-19 cases, Cambodia confirming more than 600 in the last 24 hours and Laos’s daily tally surpassing Vietnam’s highest of 82 cases on January 28, the health ministry is "very anxious," Long said.

The new "double mutant" variants in India and the U.K. variant in Cambodia that are more transmissible pose a greater risk of community transmissions.

On Sunday, the HCMC Pasteur Institute confirmed that 85.7 percent of infected samples taken from imported Covid-19 cases from Cambodia contain the U.K. variant, and 14.3 percent have the South African variant.

"The global pandemic situation shows that new outbreaks are often larger, stronger and more devastating than previous ones," Long said.

"The health sector has prepared for the scenario of widespread local outbreaks, especially in the Mekong Delta region," the minister said, adding that his ministry is preparing for worst case scenarios like undetected infections in the community.

Over the last few months, the National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and Control and the Health Ministry have been warning about a new outbreak in the country as many people have entered the country illegally and others have dropped their guard.

Vietnam’s first coronavirus wave struck between January and February last year, with the epicenter being the northern province of Vinh Phuc. The second wave, which struck between July and August, was centered in the central city Da Nang City, and the third one earlier this year in the northern provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh as well as Ho Chi Minh City.

The Mekong Delta, where the four provinces of An Giang, Dong Thap, Kien Giang and Long An share borders with Cambodia, has been named a potential Covid-19 hotspot.

People arriving from Cambodia are held at a border station in Vietnams An Giang Province, March 2021. Photo courtesy of An Giang border guards.

People arriving from Cambodia are held at a border station in Vietnam's An Giang Province, March 2021. Photo courtesy of An Giang border guards.

As Vietnam tightens border controls on land, controlling illegal entrance by sea remains a challenge, Long said.

He advised people to strictly adopt prevention measures and report any illegal entry to local authorities.

"We suggest that all localities ramp up surveillance to detect new infections early. They should prepare for scenarios of outbreaks spreading in the community, so they are ready to act without fumbling," Long said.

While Vietnam has sealed its borders, there are occasional illegal entrants who evade checkpoints to avoid mandatory quarantine. Several foreigners have also been caught entering the country illegally.

As per protocol, everyone entering the nation must be quarantined for 14 days, during which he/she will be tested at least twice.

Vietnam has gone over two months without Covid-19 community transmissions.

 
 
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