HCM City feeling the strain of rising cases

June 18, 2021 - 18:16

The COVID-19 pandemic in Việt Nam continues to be complicated this week, with the number of new cases on the rise, especially in HCM City.


More than 800,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by Japan arrived in HCM City on June 17. VNA/VNS Photo

The COVID-19 pandemic in Việt Nam continues to be complicated this week, with the number of new cases on the rise, especially in HCM City.

The country recorded 1,876 new case during the week by Friday. The total number of coronavirus patients nationwide since April 27 is now 9,172.

Although Bắc Giang and Bắc Ninh provinces, the two hotspots with the highest number of cases since the new wave, still reported new cases every day, most of them are in industrial zones and locked down areas. Local authorities said the pandemic situation in these two provinces is gradually being controlled.

Lê Ánh Dương, Chairman of Bắc Giang Province, said after more than a month facing the pandemic, the locality has now been able to control the situation and could possibly resume normal activities next week.

Meanwhile, the situation in HCM City is still strenuous.

New chains of community infections with the Delta variant of the coronavirus were recently discovered in some parts of the city, making the COVID-19 fight more complicated as this variant, which was first detected in India, is far more transmissible than others.

By Friday, the city has recorded more than 1,300 COVID-19 cases in all 22 districts. Of the 14 infection clusters, three have been put under control but the source of infections is still unknown for the other 11 clusters.

Staff at six hospitals and health units in the city tested positive for the virus.

The city has been practising social distancing for the past two weeks and has extended the period by another two weeks due to ongoing concerns, until June 28.

To quickly contain the outbreak, HCM City is currently deploying all manners of testing, including quick and RT-PCR tests, while also combining different samples into one batch to hasten the process

The city’s hospitals are implementing a screening process that discovers potential COVID-19 symptoms, then traces a patient’s close contacts within the community. Experts said this screening process is particularly important in highly populated areas.

The Government during the week approved HCM City’s proposal on the purchase and import of the COVID-19 vaccines. This means companies will be allowed to proactively contact and negotiate with vaccine producers and distributors worldwide to import the vaccines into Việt Nam.

HCM City leaders had also asked the leaders of Thủ Đức City and other districts to ramp up efforts to check compliance with COVID-19 safety regulations and and seriously tackle violators.

The dispatch also said the leaders of Thủ Đức City and the districts will be held accountable for any violations in the areas under their management.

Largest vaccination campaign ever

Earlier this week, the ministry of health announced what is described as its biggest vaccination campaign in the nation’s history.

The steering committee for the nationwide inoculation campaign is headed by the health minister while the headquarters of the campaign is located at the Ministry of National Defence and led by a deputy chief of staff of the Việt Nam People's Army.

Eight cold storage facilities for vaccines will be established, with one in the Hà Nội Capital High Command and the rest at seven military units nationwide. Vaccines which are shipped to local airports will be quickly transported to the storage facilities to maintain their quality.

All the facilities must meet Good Storage Practices standards.

During the campaign, all vaccination sites will be strictly supervised by an online control system, with information on the number of people receiving jabs and doses administered to be publicised.

Some 15,000 vaccination stations with sufficient human resources and equipment will update and publicise the vaccination process, the number of doses administered and the number of people vaccinated.

The national steering committee for vaccinations will work online round-the-clock to monitor the vaccination process closely.

Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said his ministry has been trying to seek and negotiate with partners to secure sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for domestic use, while speeding up the research and production of vaccines locally.

Việt Nam has so far reached agreements to get approximately 120 million doses from vaccine manufacturers and partners such as AstraZeneca, COVAX Facility, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Sputnik V. It is now working towards a goal of securing 150 million doses in 2021 to inoculate up to 75 per cent of its population by the end of this year, the health minister said.

International support

Amid complicated developments of the pandemic and critical shortages of vaccines on a global scale, international friendship and support came to play.

On June 16, a shipment of 966,320 COVID-19 doses provided by Japan arrived at the Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội. Most were transported to HCM City and will be given to prioritised groups.

Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said Việt Nam is the first country in Southeast Asia to receive COVID-19 vaccines from Japan. Yamada Takio, Japanese Ambassador to Việt Nam, said the donation is a testament of the “profound friendship” between the two countries and expressed his belief Việt Nam will beat the pandemic.

Also in this week, the health ministry worked with the Cuban Ministry of Public Health and other Cuban agencies on the supply of Cuba’s COVID-19 vaccine, called Abdala, and the transfer of production technology.

The vaccine has undergone three phases of clinical trials and was tested on 123 people in the first phase, 660 people in the second phase and 48,000 people in the third phase. The trial proved that the vaccine could prevent coronavirus variants, including those from South Africa and Brazil.

Cuban Minister of Public Health José Angel Portal Miranda said Cuba could produce 100 million Abdala doses but needs only 30 million doses per year. Therefore, Cuba is willing to transfer the vaccine production technology to Việt Nam and build two more factories.

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, Abdala is produced using technology similar to that used in the research and production of Việt Nam’s Nano Covax COVID-19 vaccine.

Nearly two million people in Việt Nam has been given COVID-19 vaccination to date. — VNS