|A WHO notice on the classification of the Omicron as a variant of concern as seen on a smartphone. — AFP/VNA Photo|
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health on Sunday asked localities and agencies to strengthen epidemiological surveillance to quickly detect and prevent the spread of Omicron, the new SARS-CoV-2 variant.
The ministry also proposed that Government suspend international flights to and from a number countries where the strain has been detected, including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The ministry have said that so far, Việt Nam has not yet detected any COVID-19 cases of the new variant.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Omicron – the B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation there has been characterised by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.
The Omicron variant is thought to be able to spread five times faster than the Delta variant.
On November 25, 2021, WHO announced it was the variant of concern and called it Omicron.
To proactively control the COVID-19 situation in Việt Nam and prevent the risk of the spread of the new strain, the Ministry of Health asked agencies and localities to strengthen COVID-19 surveillance.
The Institutes of Hygiene and Epidemiology and Pasteur Institutes were asked to proactively carry out genetic sequencing of suspected new mutant infections, especially those with epidemiological history from South African countries.
At the same time, the ministry proposed considering suspending international flights to and from countries in Africa where the new strain has been detected. Those who want to travel to or come from such countries would not be granted permission.
The Ministry of Health will continue to closely co-ordinate with the WHO and national focal agencies to implement the International Health Regulations to promptly provide information on the strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and take necessary measures. — VNS