COVID-19 update, 29th January 2021

Following the discovery of two new COVID-19 clusters that resulted in the all-time high jump of 82 new COVID-19 cases in Vietnam yesterday, the Ministry of Health has reported 9 more cases in its latest update at 6AM this morning, all of whom are associated with previous patients.

Against the threat of another outbreak, authorities in major cities have been quick to step up preventive measures, performing tests on those who return from COVID-infected areas and shutting down venues with high risks of infection.

9 new COVID-19 cases reported this morning

Medical staff at the Bắc Ninh General Hospital in the north of Vietnam
Image credit: Sức Khỏe Việt Nam

While 6 of the 9 new cases reported this morning are from the COVID-19 clusters of Quảng Ninh and Hải Dương, the other 3 were found in the northern cities of Hanoi, Hải Phòng, and Bắc Ninh. They all had close contact with Patient 1552 and Patient 1553, the first two cases discovered yesterday.

The new cases, however, were expected, as authorities are performing broader testing that extends all the way to the third-hand contacts of any COVID-19 patient. In a meeting yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam estimated that the virus had only been present in the community for 10 days before being discovered and urged people to stay calm despite the large number of new cases.

According to him, responses to the new cases have been quicker than the previous outbreak in Đà Nẵng back in July 2020, and he hopes to successfully contain the virus in the next 10 days.

Currently, Vietnam’s total COVID-19 patient count since the beginning of the pandemic is sitting at 1651.

Major Vietnamese cities step up preventive measures

Temperature screening of passengers in a bus. Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Image credit: Ministry of Health

Hanoi authorities are performing extensive contact tracing of known COVID-19 patients and have urged anyone who’s recently been to cluster sites such as Quảng Ninh’s Vân Đồn International Airport and Chí Linh City in Hải Dương to report to the nearest medical authorities and practice self-isolation.

Safety measures such as reducing public gatherings and mask-wearing in public are being enforced, and the city is considering the cancelation of various celebration activities for this upcoming Lunar New Year if the situation takes a turn for the worse.

Meanwhile, Hồ Chí Minh City is also reactivating its COVID-19 prevention system. Quarantine facilities are being prepared, and high-risk areas such as schools, hospitals, and malls are being closely monitored.

Hải Dương has stopped receiving vehicles transporting passengers from other provinces starting from 12AM today. Public vehicles operating within the city are not allowed to carry more than 20 passengers at any given time and must have hand sanitizer on board. Staff and passengers are required to wear masks and maintain safe distances from one another. Yesterday, Chí Linh City, home to the province’s COVID-19 cluster, already begun social distancing.

In Đà Nẵng, authorities are keeping a close eye on any new developments and are coming up with plans to respond at the shortest notice.

Vietnam cities raise alert as COVID-19 patient tally raises

It is unfortunate that we’re seeing new COVID-19 community transmissions just a couple of weeks before Tết, but as Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam has said, with quick response, hopefully we can snuff out the outbreak in the next 10 days and welcome a new year with joy.

But of course, that can only happen if each of us does our part for the good of the community. If you’ve been to high-risk areas recently, be sure to report to the authorities to have yourself tested. For the rest of us, let’s cut down on unnecessary public gatherings and wear masks when we go out.

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Cover image adapted from Sức Khỏe Việt Nam and Ministry of Health, for illustrative purposes only

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