Ho Chi Minh City records 5 more imported Omicron cases

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Ho Chi Minh City records 5 more imported Omicron cases

This image shows a COVID-19 patient being visited by a health worker at a field hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Ho Chi Minh City has documented five more imported Omicron cases, bringing the total infections of this coronavirus variant in the city to eleven, according to local health authorities.

The new infections were detected in five air passengers who entered Vietnam in December and were quarantined upon arrival, the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control reported on Thursday.

Having tested positive for the coronavirus, they were sent to a COVID-19 field hospital, where their genome sequencing later confirmed their infection with the highly-contagious Omicron strain.

All the passengers on the same flights as the infected people as well as other contacts have been identified and put in centralized quarantine, while 223 of them have tested negative for the variant, the center said.

Under the city’s new medical protocol for air passengers from abroad, COVID-19 tests have been performed on them upon their arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport since January 1.

Those found positive will be sent to a makeshift hospital for genome sequencing to identify Omicron infections, while those with negative results will be monitored in accordance with the current regulations of the Ministry of Health, the center said.

The southern city has previously documented six cases of Omicron, with all of them imported.

Of these cases, one was confirmed on January 3 while the other five were first found infected with Omicron on December 31 but they were retested negative one day later.

Nationwide, a total of 30 imported Omicron cases have been recorded, including 11 in the city, 14 in Quang Nam, two in Thanh Hoa, and one each in Hai Duong, Hai Phong, and Hanoi.

The Omicron mutant, a.k.a. the B.1.1.529 variant, was designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern on November 26, two days after it was first reported to WHO by South Africa.

The variant has now been found in over 110 countries and territories, with health experts stating it appears to be more contagious but less virulent than previous strains.

As of Wednesday, Ho Chi Minh City, which houses nearly nine million people, had administered over 8.09 million first vaccine shots and some 7.25 million second jabs to its adult population, according to the national COVID-19 vaccination portal.

It is expected that the third vaccine does, including booster shots and additional primary jabs, will be given to all people aged 18 and older by January 30, VnExpress cited the local Department of Health as saying.

Ho Chi Minh City has recently seen its daily COVID-19 cases and deaths falling considerably, to 442 and 21, respectively, on Thursday, compared to the 1,174 and 94 a month earlier, according to the Ministry of Health’s data.

Despite these positive signs, the city remains the locality hit worst by COVID-19 in Vietnam, with 507,759 infections and 19,675 fatalities documented since the pandemic erupted in the Southeast Asian country in early 2020.

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