A man in Ward 3, District 4, HCM City, is tested for COVID-19. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Giang
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam’s national COVID-19 caseload reached nearly 20,000 today, with increases driven by a major jump in HCM City and the presence of highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant.
Health authorities confirmed 887 cases on Sunday, including 14 imported cases in Kiên Giang (6), Thái Bình (4), and Quảng Trị (4) provinces.
The remaining 873 cases are community infections with 824 found in quarantine facilities or locked down areas.
Of the new cases, most are in HCM City with 599 infections, followed by Bình Dương and Long An with 87 and 72 infections, respectively.
The new cases pushed the total number of infections in the two southern provinces to 635 and 189.
Phú Yên and Tiền Giang provinces recorded 32 and 29 new infections each.
Other provinces and cities with single-digit increase include Khánh Hoà (9), Quảng Ngãi (8 ), Đồng Tháp (6), An Giang (6), Bình Định (4), Bắc Giang (3), Nghệ An (3), Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu (2), Vĩnh Long (2), Hải Phòng (2), Tây Ninh (2), Hà Tĩnh (2), Ninh Thuận (1), Trà Vinh (1), Huế (1), Bến Tre (1), and Đà Nẵng (1).
The number of infections in the fourth wave surpassed 16,000 on Sunday, currently at 16,505, with the total recoveries at 5,045.
More than 3,41 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted since April 29 to screen/test for COVID-19 on almost nine million people.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 19,993 COVID-19 patients nationwide, with 18,075 local cases and 1,858 imported.
HCM City boosting testing
With 6,034 COVID-19 cases logged since late May and sprawling outbreaks in the community, HCM City on Sunday has become the biggest hotspot in the country’s severe fourth wave of infections, according to reports from the health ministry.
The southern economic hub, which has been under heightened social distancing since May 31 with non-essential services and traditional markets shuttered and people urged not to go outside unless for emergency cases or essential trips.
It is conducting mass screening for COVID-19 and triple-digit daily increases have been recorded in recent days, and contributed the largest portion in Việt Nam’s record daily hike of 914 local transmissions on Saturday.
HCM City on Sunday overtook Bắc Giang, which was suffering from severe outbreaks related to industrial zones and factories, with 5,630 cases since late April but the number of daily new cases has dropped to single-digits in recent days.
Along with HCM City, several other south-eastern localities are also witnessing a fast rise in community cases especially in high-risk areas such as manufacturing plants and markets, while the northern region's outbreaks have been for the most part controlled like Hà Nội, Bắc Giang, Bắc Ninh.
To speed-up finding virus carriers in the community and facilitate contact tracing in order to suppress outbreaks as soon as possible, HCM City’s health department on Sunday asked to deploy more rapid tests along with standard laboratory RT-PCR which takes more time.
Group testing for entire households or a company’s staff, depending on the epidemiological risks, would be continued.
The city aims to process up to 200,000 rapid antigen tests a day, and municipal districts should report to the HCM City Centre for Disease Control (CDC) on their estimated test demands.
The move came after a Government meeting with eight southern localities, chaired by Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính, in which health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long urged increasing the use of rapid tests.
While known for being less accurate than RT-PCR tests, its use is especially effective in this outbreak given the high viral load in the patients infected with the Delta coronavirus variant, according to the minister.
The city's authorities are also gearing up social resources and equipment along with medical supplies to prepare for scenarios of up to 15,000 infections. — VNS