Health workers at a rapid antigen service station in Nội Bài International Airport, Hà Nội. — Photo courtesy of the airport
HÀ NỘI — The first case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected in Việt Nam.
The carrier is a man who arrived in Hà Nội from the United Kingdom, according to a notice from the health ministry on Tuesday.
The patient was immediately quarantined after he landed in the country, and has not had any contact with the public.
The 108 Military Central Hospital 108 in Hà Nội on December 19 received the patient whose name was given as K.V.H.M.
He arrived on a Bamboo Airways flight touching down at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội the same day, and a rapid COVID-19 test returned a positive result.
The man was transported from the airport using a specialised vehicle to a quarantine facility at the 108 Hospital.
The hospital has also collected a specimen from the patient and confirmed the infection using RT-PCR diagnostics.
Following the health ministry’s order to conduct genomic sequencing of foreign arrivals infected with SARS-CoV-2, the hospital on December 20 analysed the man’s specimen using a sequencer made by Oxford Nanopore Technologies and he was suspected to have contracted Omicron variant but it was not conclusive due to the many deletion mutations of the variant.
A day later, the hospital again conducted genome sequencing for the patient and confirmed he was carrying the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) with 34 mutations on the spike protein.
The patient is in stable condition, not showing any clinical symptoms of COVID-19 and severe disease is unlikely, according to the 108 Hospital's doctors.
The health ministry has reported to Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính about the case and said it was carrying out strict surveillance of COVID-19 cases into Việt Nam.
The ministry earlier this month asked that all arrivals into the country since November 28, 2021, who have tested positive for coronavirus through the RT-PCR method or NAAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) within 14 days of entry, will have their samples taken for genomic sequencing.
If the Omicron variant is detected, all close contacts of the infected will also be tested and all positive samples will be further analysed as well.
Health authorities must strengthen the surveillance system for cases with unusual developments and characteristics (number of cases, severe development or hospitalisation, or abnormal increase in mortality over time, geographical area, specific groups of people, etc.), and collect samples for screening and identification, to identify any Omicron transmissions.
The variant of concern Omicron, first detected by South Africa, has appeared in many countries, and WHO is calling for faster vaccination of the population to prepare for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases given the variant's highly transmissible properties. — VNS