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Saigon to Retest All Foreign Experts Arriving This Year for Covid-19

Officials have not announced any cut-off date of arrival for those to be tested.

On Saturday, the HCMC People's Committee asked relevant agencies to perform the tests in response to a deceased Japanese man in Hanoi, Case 2,229, who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in the country last month. The man entered Vietnam on January 17 to serve as an expert for Mitsui Vietnam Co. Ltd.

After a two-week quarantine in Tan Binh District, he traveled to Hanoi, where he passed away in a Tay Ho serviced apartment. His cause of death has not been confirmed, but he did test positive for COVID-19 when the body was found despite having tested negative upon arrival and twice during the quarantine process. Authorities have chronicled his travel activities to conduct contract tracing.

The case of Patient 2,229 has prompted authorities to be especially vigilant when it comes to monitoring foreign workers in Saigon. Since the start of 2021, 700 Japanese experts have landed in the city, and more than 200 of them have remained in Saigon, while others traveled to other areas for employment.

Foreign experts arriving in Vietnam have long had to undergo testing and a two-week quarantine period, and earlier this month all employees at Tan Son Nhat were tested following a string of positive cases amongst baggage handlers. No specifics about the plans to test recently arrived experts have been announced.

Currently, 776 local cases have been detected in 13 provinces since January 27 after nearly two months without a new case. Of these, 596 of the new cases are in Hai Duong Province, which has been put under strict lockdown. On Sunday, the Ministry of Health announced that more than 80% of the cases in the current outbreak are asymptomatic, but 19 patients are in critical condition. Saigon has not recorded any new cases of community spread in the past 10 days.

In addition to testing all recently arrived foreign experts and 14 days of self-monitored isolation for locals coming from COVID-19 hotspots, officials in Saigon are seeking to collect medical declarations from all people who have traveled to any other locality in the past 14 days. Moreover, the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control (HCDC) has recommended all public events and religious ceremonies of more than 20 people be canceled.

On February 8, the city shut down all non-essential businesses such as bars, discotheques and karaoke parlors, though some seem to be ignoring the directive. Meanwhile, schools in Saigon and Hanoi will remain closed for the rest of the month, while students in some other provinces are returning to the classroom this week. 

[Photo via Tin Tức]