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Reverse migration breeds Mekong Delta Covid-19 hotspots

By Ngoc Tai, Cuu Long   October 26, 2021 | 05:30 am PT
Four Mekong Delta provinces have recorded a rise in the number of Covid-19 infections after receiving thousands of returnees from localities previously hard hit by the pandemic.

Of all 13 Mekong Delta localities, An Giang has seen the fastest increase in the number of new Covid-19 cases at 1,481 in the past week. This is a surge of 170 percent over the previous week. Of the new cases, 407 were community cases, meaning the sources of infection could not be immediately traced.

Among 65,000 migrant workers returning home to An Giang from Ho Chi Minh City and its neighboring provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An since early this month, 1,034 have been confirmed infected with the novel coronavirus.

"Most worrisome are those who have returned, but skipped the health declaration process. The province is mobilizing forces to detect these cases as soon as possible," said An Giang Chairman Nguyen Thanh Binh.

With the Covid-19 outbreak deemed under control in the industrial hubs of HCMC and its neighbors, all localities hard hit by the latest wave, social distancing measures were eased early October, triggering a reverse migration of workers returning to their hometowns.

Of all An Giang districts, Cho Moi has been hit hardest, with 236 new cases detected within the past three days.

Meanwhile, a cluster at the An Giang General Hospital has grown by 104 infections since Oct. 20.

Migrant workers on their way back home in the Mekong Delta stop halfway to get charity food, October 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long

Migrant workers on their way back home in the Mekong Delta stop halfway to get charity food, October 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long

In Soc Trang Province, the number of new Covid-19 cases since Sep. 30 has increased three times compared to the previous period. More than 3,000 cases have been detected in less than a month after the province received 43,000 people returning from Long An, HCMC, Dong An and Binh Duong.

The province is building on its current capacity to treat more than 2,000 Covid-19 patients, establishing five field hospitals to accommodate another 1,000, said Tran Van Khai, deputy head of the municipal Health Department.

Bac Lieu Province, meanwhile, recorded 474 new infections between October 19 and 24, including 59 community cases and 36 among returnees in quarantine camps.

Its biggest cluster now is a seafood company with 131 infections detected among 700 staff in the past five days.

For almost a month now, Kien Giang has reported around 100 Covid-19 patients per day. Of these, around 10 percent are community cases.

Ha Van Phuc, director of the province’s Health Department, said several returnees have failed to isolate themselves at home as regulated, causing a rise in community infections.

The vaccination rates, meanwhile, remain low in the four delta provinces, currently at 10.6 percent in An Giang, 7.6 percent in Kien Giang, 14.2 percent in Bac Lieu and 5 percent in Soc Trang.

Between October 1 and 9, 43 localities across the nation received at least 180,000 people returning from HCMC and its neighboring localities.

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