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Vietnam Confirms 1st Community Covid-19 Case After 88 Days in Saigon

After going 88 days without any detected community transmission of COVID-19, last night the Ministry of Health announced a new case in Saigon.

Tuoi Tre reports that Case 1,347, Vietnam's latest confirmed community transmission, came into direct contact with his friend, a Vietnam Airlines flight attendant who had been quarantined in the city (Case 1,342).

He taught at an English tuition center in Tan Binh from November 18 to 25, in addition to working at another branch in District 10 and visiting a cafe and karaoke parlor. Health workers have identified and isolated 192 direct and indirect contacts of Case 1,347 for testing, while further contact tracing is underway. As of this writing, the test results for those contacts have not been announced.

Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long has called on members of the public to remain vigilant against the pandemic, and also ordered businesses that Case 1,347 visited to be temporarily closed and sanitized. Since then, Saigon authorities has shut down the Vietnam Airlines quarantine facility, the coffee shop and the English tuition center where the patients visited.

Zing further reports that both of the above patients are being treated at the Cu Chi Field Hospital, while Case 1,347's contacts spanned Tan Binh, Binh Tan and districts 6 and 10. His 146 close contacts have been placed in centralized quarantine, while 52 lower-level contacts are being isolated at home. A total of 235 contacts of Case 1,347 and 1,342 have been identified and isolated.

According to Tien Phong, the flight attendant landed in Can Tho on November 14 on a repatriation flight from Japan. He and the crew then underwent four days of compulsory quarantine at a Vietnam Airlines-operated facility in Tan Binh District. As everybody on the flight tested negative, crew members were allowed to return home to finish the rest of the two-week quarantine in accordance with national quarantine policies for crew members.

At the end of the quarantine period on November 28, however, he tested positive for the coronavirus and became Case 1,342. Preliminary investigation shows that he likely contracted the virus from a colleague, Case 1,325, while they were staying at the Vietnam Airlines facility. Case 1,325, another flight attendant, was on a repatriation flight from Romania with many confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Case 1,342 initially tested negative for the virus twice while in quarantine and was therefore allowed to self-isolate at his home in the same district. During this period, however, he had direct contact with his mother and two friends, one of whom was Case 1,347. The mother and the other friend tested negative for the virus.

In an interview with Zing, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control Nguyễn Trí Dũng opined that Vietnam Airlines has followed government guidelines on crew quarantine, but Case 1,342 violated self-quarantine protocols by having contact with three people before the two-week period ended.

[Photo: Inside a repatriation flight carrying Vietnamese citizens from Germany to Vietnam/SGGP]

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