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What will Vietnam do to cope with the Omicron variant?

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The Ministry of Health (MOH) has asked local authorities to strengthen surveillance to discover Covid-19 cases and any abnormal signs of clusters as a new coronavirus variant called Omicron has emerged.

What will Vietnam do to cope with the Omicron variant?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on November 25, 2021 reported that the coronavirus variant it has named Omicron (B.1.1.529) was discovered in several African countries, such as South Africa and Botswana.

The first patient was a 30-year-old man in South Africa. He had fatigue, body aches with a minor headache, and itching, but no sore throat, cough or loss of taste.

According to scientists, the Omicron variant has 32 mutations in spike glycoprotein and is the most mutated of the SARS-CoV-2 viruses. It is predicted to spread faster than Delta.

Omicron cases have been discovered on several continents. Though epidemiologists think that it’s too late to impose travel restrictions to prevent Omicron from spreading globally, many countries have banned passengers from the southern part of Africa.

Dr Do Van Dung from the HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy said it’s still too early to come to a conclusion about Omicron. He believes that viruses have a common evolutionary principle, and that new variants will be more contagious but less deadly. He explained that if viruses cause many deaths, there will be fewer hosts for them to infect. Their virulence then tends to be less deadly.

Keeping high alert

According to MOH, Vietnam has not found any Omicron cases. The ministry has instructed the healthcare system to strengthen surveillance to discover any abnormal signs of hotbeds.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has requested MOH to keep a close watch over the pandemic situation caused by Omicron and frequently contact WHO to get updates about this variant, so as to propose effective measures to cope with it.

MOH has asked institutes of hygiene and epidemiology and Pasteur Institute to carry out genetic sequencing of suspected new variants, especially from people returning from southern Africa.

The ministry has asked the Government to stop international flights from and to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho and Mozambique, and to stop granting entry permits to people from these countries.

Grassroots healthcare

According to Dung, vaccine boosters need to be given to people with top priority – older people, people with underlying health conditions, and medical workers at Covid-19 treatment centers.

To cope with Covid-19, protecting people at high risk in order to to reduce mortality rate is a top priority.

Pham Duc Hai, Deputy Head of the HCM City Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and Control, said all nCoV viruses are transmitted through the respiratory tract. One of the most important things people must do is wear a protective face mask, and follow the government’s 5K (in Vietnamese: Khau trang – facemask, Khu khuan – disinfection, Khoang cach – distance, Khong tu tap – no gathering, Khai bao y te – health declaration) prevention principles.

Amid the risk of the new variant, Doctors Nguyen Thu Anh and Ngo Hoang Anh from Woolcock Vietnam said Vietnam should prepare thoroughly for all scenarios.

Regarding temporary measures, they said Vietnam should restrict the entry of people from countries with the variant, including Botswana, Eswatini, Lethoso, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Belgium and Israel. New names will be added to the list if necessary. The measures should be applied until scientists have a full understanding of the new variant, including the possible influences on vaccine effects, or until the healthcare system is ready and prepared for a new outbreak.

Circulating variants should be screened by either sequencing genes or using random TaqPath of collected patient samples.

Vaccination coverage must be sped up and booster shots given to people at high risk, including people over 65 years old, medical workers, and people with underlying health conditions, especially those vaccinated with non-mRNA vaccines (there are two mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech approved in Vietnam).

Moreover, it’s necessary to consolidate the grassroots healthcare system and increase the capacity for PCR (Polymerase chain reaction) testing to be able to give results within 24 hours.

In theory, the combination of many mutants on spike protein could significantly reduce the effects of vaccines. Though scientists have not discovered the mechanism and the impact of the variant, Vietnam needs to be on high alert about the variant. 

Vietnam works closely with WHO, US CDC to deal with Omicron threat

Vietnam is working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) in its response to new coronavirus variant Omicron, according to Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long.

The Ministry of Health on November 30 held a meeting on the threats of the very concerning variant with WHO Representative in Vietnam Kidong Park, CDC Southeast Asia Regional Director John MacArthur, and Director of US CDC Vietnam’s Global Health Security Programme Matthew Moore.

Long said as of November 30 morning, Vietnam has not recorded any case of COVID-19 with the new variant.

The ministry last week asked the government to halt flights to/from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Mozambique, as well as suspend the issuance of visas for passengers coming from these countries.

The ministry has also asked to step up surveillance to promptly detect abnormal signs at COVID-19 outbreak clusters, and ordered the Pasteur institutes and the National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology to perform genome sequencing on suspect cases with Omicron, especially ones with a history of travel to southern Africa.

The WHO and CDC representatives all stressed the four important steps in dealing with Omicron, including enhancing testing and surveillance to detect the cases, speeding up vaccination, boosting the capacity of the medical system – especially at the grassroots level – to make them able to deal with growing outbreaks, and stepping up communication on COVID-19 prevention and control measures and making public the genetic sequences of COVID-19 cases for further analysis by researchers and experts.

At the meeting, leaders of the Health Ministry together with the representatives of WHO, US CDC in Southeast Asia and US CDC in Vietnam agreed to be ready to share the results of the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 cases.

Long said Vietnam to date had administered 120 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and progress had been steady recently, especially with the rollout of vaccines for children aged 12-17 in more than 30 localities around the country.

He also urged the public to follow COVID-19 prevention and control measures but not to panic or become overly anxious in the face of the Omicron variant./. VNA

 Ngoc Trang

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/feature/what-will-vietnam-do-to-cope-with-the-omicron-variant-797315.html

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Future is now

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The winners of the first VinFuture Prize have been revealed. Professors Kariko, Cullis and Weissman were awarded the Grand Prize of US$3 million for their research on mRNA vaccine technology.

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/1118190/future-is-now.html

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15,935 new coronavirus cases recorded on Friday

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A student has his body temperature checked before entering class at Việt Đức High School in Hoàn Kiếm District of Hà Nội. — VNA/ Photo Thanh Tùng

HÀ NỘI — A total of 15,935 new COVID-19 patients were reported in Việt Nam on Friday, raising the total number to 2,110,737.

Thirty-four were imported infections and the remaining domestic. New cases were reported in 62 out of 63 provinces and cities across the country.

A total of 10,912 transmissions were detected in the community.

The capital city of Hà Nội again led the list, with 2,805 cases.

The other localities that reported new infections were Đà Nẵng (964), Hải Phòng (796), Hưng Yên (685), Bến Tre (618), Thanh Hóa (509), Quảng Ngãi (482), Bình Phước (475), Bình Định (420), Bắc Ninh (418), Quảng Ninh (369), Khánh Hòa (346), Quảng Nam (344), Hải Dương (341), Cà Mau (319), Bắc Giang (299), Vĩnh Phúc (280), Thừa Thiên Huế (280), Thái Nguyên (268), Vĩnh Long (263), Trà Vinh (240), Tây Ninh (237), Nghệ An (233), Lâm Đồng (231), HCM City (227), Nam Định (223), Phú Thọ (209), Hòa Bình (208), Thái Bình (187), Ninh Bình (151), Lào Cai (134), Tuyên Quang (129), Hà Nam (128), Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu (127), Điện Biên (115), Bạc Liêu (113), Lạng Sơn (112), Đắk Nông (101), Gia Lai (99), Sơn La (99), Hà Giang (99), Bình Dương (95), Quảng Bình (90), Hậu Giang (87), Phú Yên (84), Yên Bái (84), Đồng Tháp (81), Kon Tum (73), Kiên Giang (72), Bình Thuận (71), Cần Thơ (61), Quảng Trị (56), Sóc Trăng (55), Hà Tĩnh (52), Đồng Nai (51), Cao Bằng (51), An Giang (39), Ninh Thuận (31), Tiền Giang (28), Long An (22), Lai Châu (22) and Bắc Kạn (13).

Việt Nam has seen 133 cases of the Omicron variant so far, in Hà Nội (12), Quảng Nam (27), HCM City (65), Hải Dương (1), Hải Phòng (1), Thanh Hóa (2), Đà Nẵng (8), Khánh Hòa (11), Long An (1) and Quảng Ninh (2).

A further 2,256 patients were declared recovered, taking the number of people given the all-clear so far to 1,797,180.

A total of 177 fatalities related to COVID-19 were announced. To date, the country has had 36,443 deaths, making up 1.7 per cent of total infections and ranking 25th out of 224 countries and territories worldwide.

More than 173.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the country so far. —

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/1118156/15935-new-coronavirus-cases-recorded-on-friday.html

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Update of COVID-19 new cases in Việt Nam on Jan. 21 afternoon

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From 16:00 on January 20 to 16:00 on January 21, 15,935 new infections were recorded on the National COVID-19 Case Management System.
 
Provinces and cities with confirmed cases are as follows: Hà Nội (2,805), Đà Nẵng (964), Hải Phòng (796), Hưng Yên (685), Bến Tre (618), Thanh Hóa (509), Quảng Ngãi (482), Bình Phước (475), Bình Định (420), Bắc Ninh (418), Quảng Ninh (369), Khánh Hòa (346), Quảng Nam (344), Hải Dương (341), Cà Mau (319), Bắc Giang (299), Vĩnh Phúc (280), Thừa Thiên Huế (280), Thái Nguyên (268), Vĩnh Long (263), Trà Vinh (240), Tây Ninh (237), Nghệ An (233), Lâm Đồng (231), HCM City (227), Nam Định (223), Phú Thọ (209), Hòa Bình (208), Thái Bình (187), Ninh Bình (151), Lào Cai (134), Tuyên Quang (129), Hà Nam (128), Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu (127), Điện Biên (115), Bạc Liêu (113), Lạng Sơn (112), Đắk Nông (101), Gia Lai (99), Sơn La (99), Hà Giang (99), Bình Dương (95), Quảng Bình (90), Hậu Giang (87), Phú Yên (84), Yên Bái (84), Đồng Tháp (81), Kon Tum (73), Kiên Giang (72), Bình Thuận (71), Cần Thơ (61), Quảng Trị (56), Sóc Trăng (55), Hà Tĩnh (52), Đồng Nai (51), Cao Bằng (51), An Giang (39), Ninh Thuận (31), Tiền Giang (28), Long An (22), Lai Châu (22), Bắc Kạn (13).
 
Up to now, Việt Nam has recorded 130 cases of COVID-19 due to Omicron variant in Hà Nội (12), Quảng Nam (27), HCM City (65), Hải Dương (1), Hải Phòng (1), Thanh Hóa (2), Đà Nẵng (8), Khánh Hòa (11), Long An (1), Quảng Ninh (2).

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/1118126/update-of-covid-19-new-cases-in-viet-nam-on-jan-21-afternoon.html

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