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Saigon Confirms First 3 Omicron Covid-19 Cases in the Community

Does the appearance of the highly transmissible variant in the community mean another wave of the pandemic for Saigon?

Tuoi Tre reports that three new community COVID-19 cases in Saigon were confirmed to have the Omicron variant. The patients, all city residents, are connected to an imported case who arrived from the US earlier this month.

A source told the newspaper that a woman from Bình Thạnh District landed in Cam Ranh, Khánh Hòa Province on January 7 from the US. Both her pre- and post-flight PCR tests, on January 4 and 9, were negative, and she’s had three shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. On January 10, she flew from Nha Trang to Saigon and was picked up by three family members, one male and two females. They had dinner at a restaurant and returned home.

On January 13, she had a cough and sore throat. The next day, all three companions also showed respiratory symptoms and went for a checkup. The hospital confirmed their COVID-19 diagnosis and sent samples for genetic sequencing. Yesterday, January 18, the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit at the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases confirmed that three of the patients have the Omicron variant, while one sample is still awaiting results. All four patients are in stable condition.

Health officials in Saigon are conducting contact tracing to assess the scale of the spread of Omicron in the community. As of yesterday, Vietnam had recorded 73 cases of the new variant, though all had arrived from abroad and been quarantined. Saigon now has the most Omicron cases in the country at 33, including the new community infections. Since last year, border officials have been conducting fast tests on all international arrivals at Tân Sơn Nhất and PCR tests on positive cases to screen for Omicron.

Last November, the World Health Organization officially designated the variant B.1.1.529 a variant of concern and named it Omicron. Since its discovery in South Africa, the variant has shown unprecedented transmissibility compared to Delta, though experts are still determining the overall severity of Omicron COVID-19 cases compared to previous variants.

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