Health workers in protective suits disinfect the residence of the new community case of COVID-19 in Hồng Hà District, Hạ Long City, Quảng Ninh Province early Thursday morning. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — A further 82 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the community – all connected to the two new cases reported early Thursday morning, health officials have confirmed.
Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam revealed the news at an emergency government meeting held this morning at the National Convention Centre in Hà Nội, where the 13th National Party Congress is taking place.
This has been the biggest jump in community cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Đam said so far contact tracing has been basically completed and the pandemic control network has been reactivated at the highest levels in the two northern provinces of Hải Dương and Quảng Ninh where the new clusters were detected.
The swift testing drive was carried out after the Japanese authorities informed the Vietnamese about a female worker from Hải Dương who tested positive for the new variant of coronavirus after her arrival in Japan on January 17.
Hải Dương Centre for Disease Control confirmed 72 positive cases in addition to Patient 1,552 confirmed earlier this morning, who is the 34-year-old sister-in-law of the woman. The two work at the Poyun Electronics Co Ltd and usually went home together.
In Quảng Ninh Province, after a 31-year-old security employee at the Vân Đồn International Airport was confirmed to be infected with the virus – likely due to his exposure to the positive cases from people repatriated, health authorities have identified 355 direct contacts (F1), 124 contacts of F1 cases (F2), and three close contacts of F2.
Ten more positive cases have been confirmed so far, including the patient’s own mother and nine other colleagues at the Vân Đồn airport.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc at the meeting asked leaders of Hải Dương and Quảng Ninh provinces along with members of the health ministry and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control to personally direct the measures.
Vân Đồn International Airport has been closed and international flights suspended as well as mandatory quarantine for all arrivals from outside the country lengthened from the current 14 days, PM Phúc said.
Việt Nam has closed off its border against foreign entries since late March last year to curb the spread of the virus, but still allowed in a limited number of flights bringing Vietnamese citizens back from abroad, or business executives, highly skilled workers, and diplomats.
“We have to be transparent with the information but we have to remain calm,” PM Phúc said.
“[We will] swiftly suppress the outbreaks but at the same time, won’t cause panic and shock among the public, and ensure the successes of the Congress."
Lương Ngọc Khuê, Director of the Administration of Medical Examination and Treatment, told the press after the meeting that many have advocated for a full lockdown in Quảng Ninh and Hải Dương provinces, but the proposals are being considered and will be decided by the Prime Minister.
Khuê said given the risks of the virus spreading far and wide, there needed to be a nationwide alert. Initial investigations also indicate the two clusters might have epidemiological links, he added. He also expects that with the new developments of the pandemic, especially the presence of the new highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus, PM Phúc would soon issue a directive with stronger measures that would urge people to heighten their vigilance.— VNS