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Jul 07, 2022 / 15:13

Hanoi confirms first Omicron BA.5 community infections, most cases have mild symptoms

Local health experts said symptoms of Omicron BA.5 sub-variant are like a common cold with fever, cough, runny nose, and sore throat.

Hanoi has recorded its first Covid-19 community transmission cases with the Omicron BA.5 sub-variant, authorities announced on July 6.

The Hanoi Department of Health said the capital city's first Omicron BA.5 local infections were recorded at Bach Mai Hospital, the largest hospital in Vietnam.

The patients have made contact with foreigners infected with the variant and remain quarantined at the hospital and there's no risk of further infection in the community, the department said.

The Hanoi Center for Disease Control (CDC) is asked to supervise Omicron BA.5 patients while the department supervises genomic sequencing.

 The Covid-19 vaccine currently in use is effective against sub-variants of BA.4 and BA.5. Photo: Ha Linh

Previously, Ho Chi Minh City also recorded the first case infected with Omicron BA.5 variant, an 11-year-old girl from Cu Chi District. Patients with symptoms of fever and cough who returned positive Covid-19 rapid test, were sampled for viral genomic sequencing.

Prof. Do Van Dung, Head of the Public Health Faculty, University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City (UMP), said the symptoms of Omicron BA.5 remain the same as those of previous Omicron variants, causing a mild infection of the upper respiratory tract and infecting the lungs less than the way Delta does.

Sharing the same idea, Dr. Truong Huu Khanh from the Ho Chi Minh City Union of Infectious Diseases said most of countries having BA.5 infections reported less hospitalized cases and deaths than BA.2.  

Experts said vaccination remains good in fighting against variants. Dr. Socorro Escalante, Acting Chief Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Vietnam said the vaccine currently used in Vietnam is also effective against strains of BA.4 and BA.5. That is the reason why the Vietnamese Government still recommends that people should get booster shots. The expert spoke highly of Vietnam’s system for coronavirus prevention and control, which has swiftly quarantined, monitored, and traced confirmed cases, and suggested the enforcement of social distancing, public health measures, and restriction of mass gatherings.

For that reason, Prof. Dr. Phan Trong Lan, director of the Department of Preventive Medicine under the Minisry of Health, stressed that vaccines continue to be a very important factor to prevent and control the pandemic.

“Injecting the booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine will help strengthen immunity and especially prevent the sub-variant BA.5. If infected, the patient will also suffer milder symptoms after the booster shots,” Lan said.

Statistics from the health ministry said that all over-18-year-old people nationwide had already received two doses of vaccine, and more than 55% had three doses. As for people aged between 12 and 17, the coverage of the first dose injection is 100% whereas that of the second dose is nearly 97%.