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Oct 04, 2021 / 23:23

Today's Covid News: Opposite pandemic evolution in north and south Vietnam

A wide range of activities is subject to reopening, including tourism in green zones.

Both northern and southern regions in Vietnam show positive pandemic situations which were presented not only through the counts of daily cases and deaths but a wide range of reopening activities.

Many parts of the north began the new normal while the south presented by Ho Chi Minh City witnessed the resumption of different fields, including public means of transport.

 Yen Dung Golf Course in Bac Giang. Photo: Yen Dung Golf Course

Wider reopening in the north

Bac Giang, which used to be the epicenter of the pandemic in May and June with the closure of four industrial parks, today [Oct 4] allowed its tourist attractions, heritage sites, and golf courses open for visitors.

Tourists are those coming from “green zones” (safe areas) nationwide, double dosed with the second shot taken for two weeks, and having negative results for SARS-CoV-2 within 72 hours upon arrival.

Since Sept 11, indoor and outdoor exercises were allowed across the province.

Bac Giang is home to hundreds of foreign-invested enterprises, including Apple’s major assemblers like Foxconn and Luxshare, as well as Samsung’s vendors.

Dr. Nguyen Thu Anh, Country Director, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, University of Sydney, said it’s necessary to pour vaccine into “green zones” to protect residents and build the foundation for the reopening plans in those areas.

She said after prioritizing vaccines to hotspots like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, and Long An, it’s time to vaccinate people in the green zones.

Overall, the north has brought the pandemic under control. As of Oct 4, up to 20 northern provinces have undergone two weeks without infections.

Only two clusters that concern people the most are the Hanoi-based Viet Duc Hospital and the community infections in Ha Nam Province.

After four days, the number of infections linked to Viet Duc Hospital reached more than 40, mostly in Hanoi while the remaining are reported in Nam Dinh, Hung Yen, Hai Duong, and Ha Tinh Provinces.

For fear of widespread transmission, the hospital plans to relocate about 1,000 patients and their relatives to three other hospitals Hanoi University Hospital, Duc Giang Hospital, and Thanh Nhan Hospital.

“The transfer of patients and their relatives out of Viet Duc Hospital to quickly return the hospital to safe status is an urgent need,” Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Health Ministry's Department of Medical Examination and Treatment, said today. He suggested that fully vaccinated health workers in the hospital could stay in lodging facilities after a working day to curb transmission.

Meanwhile, the number of infections in Ha Nam climbed to 550, including 13 health workers, after two weeks.

The cluster has prompted massive testing in Phu Ly city and some surrounding areas with the support of health workers outside the province. Dr. Truong Manh Suc, head of the Ha Nam CDC said sources of the majority of the infections are unknown.

 Representatives of WHO, UNICEF, the US Embassy in Hanoi, USAID, and Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a handover ceremony of US-donated vaccine. The photo was taken on Oct 4 by MoFA

Good news from Ho Chi Minh City

As many as 17 out of 24 districts in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) have contained the virus, namely Thu Duc City, District 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, Go Vap, Phu Nhuan, Tan Phu, Tan Binh, Nha Be, Can Gio, and Cu Chi Districts.

The news was released at a meeting on Monday [Oct 4] by Pham Duc Hai, deputy head of the city’s committee on Covid-19 control.

The number of infections in Ho Chi Minh City dropped by 28% over the past two weeks, to an average of 2,500/day in the last week, according to Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son.

The decrease was shown through the rate of infected people out of the tested people, at 0.2% in late September from 3.6% in late August.

Currently, there are about 27,000 patients hospitalized and 26,000 others treated at home. Notably, the number of deaths fell below 100/day from around 330/day in late August.

As of Oct 3, more than 11.3 million doses were administered in the city, including more than 4.3 million people fully vaccinated.

Today, the city marked the massive return to offices of state officials, foreign diplomats, and workers. To serve the travel, four bus routes No.77, 90, 127, and 128 resumed operations, working from 5:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

As part of efforts to reopen the economy, HCMC agreed with the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV)’s plan to resume domestic flights. Accordingly, HCMC is expected to receive 132 flights from 18 routes per day, including 28 HCMC-Hanoi flights/day, 14 on the HCMC-Danang route, 20 to Khanh Hoa, 11 to Binh Dinh, 7 to Phu Yen, and 2 flights to Dien Bien from Oct 5.

Thus far, the CAAV plan has received the support of localities in which airports are located in like HCMC, Khanh Hoa, Binh Dinh, Phu Yen, and Dien Bien.

Hanoi remains excluded from the list of advocates. In a document sent to CAAV today, the city required close cooperation among sectors to ensure the safety of passengers and quarantine measures. Earlier, Hanoi said it needs to retain the anti-pandemic achievements for some more time before welcoming flights.

Risk of transmission in Mekong Delta

In a related move to HCMC’s relaxed restrictions, more people have fled HCMC for their hometown, amounting to nearly 160,000 people in the last four days, including 40,000 to Soc Trang, 28,000 to An Giang, 19,000 to Kien Giang, 16,000 to Dong Thap, 12,000 to Ca Mau, 11,000 to Bac Lieu, and 9,000 to Tra Vinh.

They are young people coming home by motorbikes.

The flows of people are putting the region at risk of transmission and quarantine facilities stretched to capacity.

To support the returnees, Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon, chairman of the Buddhist Sangha of Vietnam’s Executive Council, today asked Buddhist monasteries to accommodate them during the quarantine period and offered them meals.

Sharing the same assistance, authorities and charity groups in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, and HCMC have given part of them a lift, meals, and cash for the journey home.

On Oct 4, Vietnam saw additional 5,383 Covid-19 infections, including half in Ho Chi Minh City. The country’s average daily cases and deaths in the past week were 6,835 and 149, respectively.

 Coronavirus infections in Vietnam. Source: MoH. Chart: Minh Vu