Health minister sacked over Covid test kit scam

By Viet Tuan   June 6, 2022 | 08:45 pm PT
Health minister sacked over Covid test kit scam
Nguyen Thanh Long as Vietnam's Health Minister. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Phong
Minister Nguyen Thanh Long was dismissed from his position Tuesday after being expelled from the Communist Party the previous day for his involvement in a Covid-19 test kit scam.

The National Assembly approved the dismissal following a vote among delegates in the morning session, which also removed Long from the House.

Long was expelled from the Communist Party on Monday, together with Hanoi chairman Chu Ngoc Anh, former Minister of Science and Technology.

The Party's agencies concluded that the two officials had violated the Party and the State's regulations, "causing severe consequences, losses to the money and assets of the State, undermining the Covid-19 fight, causing social unrest and affecting the reputation of the Party, the health ministry and science ministry."

The Central Inspection Committee had said in March that the Party Committee and officials at the health and science ministries had been negligent in 2016-21, and allowed wrongdoing in the approval, management and sale of Covid-19 test kits.

Phan Quoc Viet, general director of Viet A, admitted in January that he had inflated the price of the kits by 45 percent, bribed certain individuals and paid around VND800 billion ($35.2 million) as a "bonus" to company partners.

Several officials including high-ranking military generals and directors of provincial branches of the Center for Diseases Control have been arrested or placed under criminal investigation for their involvement.

Long, 56, is from Nam Dinh Province in northern Vietnam. He took the Health Minister position in November 2020. He directed Vietnam's fight against the Covid-19 pandemic while also serving as the Head of the Central Committee for Health Care.

New ministry leader

Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen is now the acting Minister of Health. Photo by VnExpress/Nhat Bac

Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen is now the acting Minister of Health. Photo by VnExpress/Nhat Bac

The Politburo, the decision-making body of the Communist Party, has appointed Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen as acting minister starting Tuesday.

Tuyen, 56, graduated from the Vietnam Military Medical University.

In June 2016, he became the Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of the northern Hung Yen Province. Within that year, he was voted chairman of the provincial People’s Council, the legislative unit.

He was appointed Deputy Minister of Health in September 2019.

The ministry has four deputy ministers.

One of them, Nguyen Truong Son, has submitted his resignation letter after he was reprimanded in the test kit scam.

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