Vietnam's latest coronavirus wave has peaked, says number-cruncher

By Thuy Quynh, Le Cam   June 8, 2021 | 01:00 am PT
Vietnam's latest coronavirus wave has peaked, says number-cruncher
Two medical workers operate at a Covid-19 quarantine zone in HCMC, May 29, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
A mathematician says Vietnam's latest Covid-19 wave has peaked late last month as evidenced by successful coronavirus containment results in the country's heaviest hit localities.

Dr Ly Nguyen Le Anh, a former lecturer at the Military Technical Academy, said the pandemic's trajectory in Vietnam is following the patterns of the model that he had previously devised. Using that model, he had predicted that the current Covid-19 wave would end as August ends.

The wave peaked in the final days of May (around May 30-June 1) and the numbers have been descending quickly in the days after. He anticipated that the number of daily cases in early July would be around 20, before dropping gradually to zero by the end of the month.

By the end of August, most mild and moderate cases of Covid-19 in medical facilities would have recovered from the disease, while the more severe cases would recover by the end of the year. All in all, the wave could end by the end of July itself, Anh said.

One notable outlier for the forecast model is the situation in HCMC, where cases are plateauing while local hotspots are still considered "complicated."

"In terms of the number of cases, HCMC doesn't have as many cases as Bac Giang or Bac Ninh, but the city is a hotspot of concern in Vietnam’s current Covid-19 wave," said Anh, adding that the southern metropolis needs to ramp up prevention measures, lest the virus exploits complacency to spark new major outbreaks.

Another concerning characteristic about HCMC’s Covid-19 outbreak is the fact that the number of initially detected cases was high before falling down, while other localities saw low number of cases first before figures began to shoot up. It means the coronavirus had already infiltrated the cities for around two weeks before the first cases were revealed, said Anh.

Both Hanoi and HCMC, while not having recorded too many Covid-19 cases, have high populations, which is a factor of concern that leaves no room for complacency, he added.

A Covid-19 forecast model by mathematician Ly Nguyen Le Anh depicting the number of active cases (top) and daily new cases (bottom left) and total coronavirus tally in the new wave.

A Covid-19 forecast model by mathematician Ly Nguyen Le Anh depicting the number of active cases (top) and daily new cases (bottom left) and total coronavirus tally in the new wave.

Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the HCMC Department of Health, said Monday said the city should expect around 40-45 cases daily in the coming days, but they would mostly be contained within already locked down zones, meaning they would not be able to spread the virus further among the community.

He also noted the particular infectivity of a Covid-19 cluster related to a Christian congregation called the Revival Ekklesia Mission, along with the presence of a Delta coronavirus variant first detected in India, which has a much higher transmissibility than ordinary strains.

By the end of May, HCMC was recording around 70 cases a day before this daily tally dropped to around 20-25. But, starting Sunday, as previous close contact cases are tested a second time, new cases could show up and cause the number to shoot up once more, Binh said.

In Bac Ninh, deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Vuong Quoc Tuan said the Covid-19 situation in the province has largely been put under control after the containment of hotspots, allowing the Covid-19 testing processes to go smoothly and results to be returned quickly.

He however said the disease was still expected to behave erratically and the number of new cases could continue to rise, posing difficulties in resource allocation for the Covid-19 fight.

Despite existing challenges, certain local factories were still operating, applying all Covid-19 prevention measures, so that the production chain would not be broken. Their workers' health is constantly checked to ensure they are healthy enough to work and contribute to the province’s economic development, Tuan said.

In Bac Giang, the heaviest hit locality in Vietnam’s latest Covid-19 wave, Dr Tran Nhu Duong, deputy director of the National Institute Of Hygiene And Epidemiology, said local authorities' efforts to keep workers from other areas to remain inside Bac Giang and lock down coronavirus hotspots have contributed to prevent Covid-19 from spreading further in the province.

Even now, the province is periodically taking samples for Covid-19 testing in locked down areas to isolate those infected. It is also trying to reduce the density of workers in hotspot areas to minimize infections, Duong said.

Almost six weeks into the new wave, Vietnam has recorded 5,951 infections in 39 of 63 cities and provinces.

Bac Giang has the highest number of cases at 3,288, followed by neighboring Bac Ninh (1,132). HCMC and Hanoi are third and fourth with 447 and 439 cases, respectively.

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