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No end to Vietnam’s coronavirus fight within first six months: health ministry

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Vietnam’s Covid-19 fight won’t end within the first six months, or even for the entire year, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said Friday.

“We believe the coronavirus fight to be an urgent and vital mission within the first quarter, because it won’t end within the first six months, or even the entire year of 2021,” Long told an online meeting with local authorities regarding Covid-19 prevention.

Vietnam’s Covid-19 wave since late January is noted to be more complex than previous ones due to the presence of the U.K. variant that is 70 percent more transmissible than normal strains, meaning more cases are recorded within a shorter time frame, said Long. The new wave also occurred within industrial areas and right around Lunar New Year festival, making the situation even more complex, he added.

As a comparison, the coronavirus wave started in central Da Nang City last year recorded only 300 cases from July to August, yet barely a month has passed since the beginning of the current wave and northern Hai Duong Province, this wave’s epicenter, has already recorded over 500 cases. The average number of recorded daily cases in Hai Duong is also higher than in Da Nang, said Long.

Noting Covid-19 tests as the key to control the outbreaks, Long requested local authorities to test more samples and return results earlier.

“If we’re slow in testing, we would only be chasing after the disease, not stopping it,” said Long, adding all officials must be trained in taking Covid-19 samples, and that the health ministry’s principle is to test quickly and pin-point an appropriate lockdown radius so as not to affect people’s lives.

Echoing Long’s opinion, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son affirmed testing is an important task in outbreak areas.

“We are satisfied with HCMC and Hai Duong’s testing capabilities… But quick testing and contact tracing are required to deal with the new variant,” said Son.

Dang Quang Tan, head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, said major hotspots like Hanoi, HCMC and Quang Ninh have basically been put under control, while other hotspots like Hai Phong, Hoa Binh, Dien Bien, Ha Giang, Binh Duong, Hung Yen, Bac Giang and Gia Lai have not recorded any new local cases within the past 7-20 days. The Hai Duong hotspot however remains complicated and may report more cases in the coming days, he added.

As of Friday, Vietnam has recorded 755 local Covid-19 cases during the ongoing wave since late January. The total coronavirus tally so far is 2,347.

By Thuy An – VnExpress.net – February 19, 2021

No end to Vietnam’s coronavirus fight within first six months: health ministry
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