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Feb 03, 2021 / 11:58

Vietnam urged to raise budget allotted for Covid-19 fight as UK variant found

The government should plan for the scenario of 30,000 infections instead of 10,000 as before, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long has said

Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has proposed the government to raise budget for the fight against Covid-19 outbreak as the number of local infections remain on the rise following the detection of the UK variant of the coronavirus.

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long at a government meeting on February 2. Photo: Nhat Bac/VGP 

At a meeting on Tuesday [February 2], Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the government should plan for the scenario of 30,000 infections instead of 10,000 as before.

He made the proposal at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc after Vietnam confirmed the newly-detected coronavirus outbreaks are caused by the UK Covid-19 virus mutant.

The outbreaks that was found on January 28 in the northern provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh have caused more than 300 locally-transmitted cases in 10 cities and provinces after a few days.

Long said that 12 out of 276 newly-infected cases were tested positive for the UK variant virus although the source of this outbreak remains unknown.

He said each patient with the new strain may infect an average of 10 others, compared to five in the last waves that Vietnam has tackled.

Study by Public Health England shows that Covid-19 variant detected in the UK could become resistant to vaccines.

Public Health England estimated in its recent analysis that the variant’s rate of infection is 25% to 40% higher than that of other strains of the coronavirus. Some preliminary evidence suggests that it is more fatal.

It is the latest evidence that the virus is undergoing a worrisome evolution worldwide.

The variant, known as B.1.1.7, first came to light in December. Since then, it has been reported in nearly 80 other countries.

Due to the fast-spreading virus, Long recommended the government to enforce masking rule in public as he argued that the virus transmission is mainly airborne instead of through contacts as before.

Violators of community masking rule should be fined.

According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The prevention benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and personal protection for the mask wearer.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told NBC, that double masking as a way to increase the level of protection from the coronavirus and its multiple, more contagious variants.

At the cabinet meeting, Long also suggested that the government needs to proceed a vaccine purchase plan proposed by the health ministry.

Few days ago, the Ministry of Health finalized procedures for the circulation of Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. The producer pledged to supply 30 million doses for Vietnam in 2021. State media reported the first batch of 50,000 doses would arrive by March, with the rest delivered by June.

So far, some localities like Hanoi, Hai Phong, and Quang Ninh have proposed to use the local budget for vaccine purchase.