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What We Know So Far About Vietnam's New 84-Case Covid-19 Wave

Health authorities are moving fast to contain Vietnam’s latest COVID-19 outbreaks — which so far include a total of 84 new cases — in northern provinces.

How the outbreaks were discovered

On January 27, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health announced that a factory worker living in Hai Duong Province tested positive for the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 on January 26 after landing in Japan on January 17. She flew from Hanoi to Osaka via Singapore and tested negative before departure. The update prompted Vietnam to restart contact tracing in the province and testing the worker’s immediate social circle.

The search yielded Case 1,552, a 34-year-old coworker who had direct contact with the case in Japan. They worked together at a factory in Chi Linh City, Hai Duong.

On the same day, test results also confirmed Case 1,553, a 31-year-old staff of Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh Province. So far, contact tracers have not found a link between the two new cases in Vietnam.

Case 1,553 exhibited respiratory symptoms earlier in the month, with a sore throat, productive cough and fever. He was hospitalized for four days and tested positive for the coronavirus on the fifth day.

A boom in new cases

Following the discovery of Case 1,552 and 1,553, Hai Duong and Quang Ninh provinces amped up testing and quarantining efforts. Hai Duong tested 100 direct contacts of the factory worker, including coworkers, and found 72 new cases. Preliminary epidemiological reports show that the outbreak in the province might have begun much earlier, around January 14.

Provincial officials also decided to close the factory division where the patients were working to disinfect the space. All residents of Kim Dien Village and workers of the factory will be tested for the coronavirus.

In Quang Ninh, the coronavirus was detected in 10 of Case 1,553’s direct contacts, including eight colleagues at the airport and his mother. Van Don Airport has been testing all personnel — nearly 300 airport staff and employees of other flight services — since 4am today, January 28. The airport is also shut down for 24 hours.

Other major policies to curb the spread of the outbreak

In a briefing session today, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc emphasized the intensity of the new outbreak and the need for strict measures. He ordered local authorities to prohibit residents of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh from leaving their home provinces, in addition to closing Van Don Airport, suspending inbound flights, and extending compulsory quarantine.

Since the morning of January 28, the education departments of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh have shut down local schools until January 31 (Quang Ninh) and indefinitely (Hai Duong). Quang Ninh has put a stop on intra- and inter-province transport, both on land and on water, until further notice.

The entirety of Chi Linh City in Hai Duong has been placed under Directive 16, the highest level of social distancing in Vietnam’s pandemic playbook, as enforced back in April last year.

Further contact tracing and testing related to the cases is underway as of this writing.