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Vietnam prepares to deal with new coronavirus variant

Catholics called on to serve increasing numbers of patients as Delta continues to take its toll

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

UCA News reporter, Ho Chi Minh City

Published: December 01, 2021 06:20 AM GMT

Updated: December 01, 2021 07:25 AM GMT

Vietnam prepares to deal with new coronavirus variant

An elementary school in Khanh Hoa province has been closed to contain the Covid outbreak. (Photo: UCA News)

The Vietnamese government plans to impose effective measures to deal with the Omicron Covid-19 variant while Catholics are called on to serve increasing numbers of patients at hospitals.

On Nov. 30, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh asked the Health Ministry to quickly gear vaccines, medical treatment and prevention steps toward the new Omicron variant that was confirmed by the World Health Organization on Nov. 25. The new strain’s unusually high number of mutations could make it more transmissible and result in immune evasion.

The prime minister also urged Ho Chi Minh City, the country's Covid-19 epicenter, and southern provinces to increase measures against the outbreak and speed up vaccinations to cover people with two doses by the end of this year.

Vietnam plans to provide booster shots to people aged over 50 who have had two vaccine jabs.

The PM said the Health Ministry should provide proper treatment for new infections to reduce hospitalized cases and improve medical capacity to offer people health services as quickly as possible.

Although Vietnam has not found any cases related to the Omicron variant so far, the Health Ministry proposed the government suspend flights to and from seven southern African countries — South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho and Mozambique — and halt entry for those with travel records to these countries.

He urged priests and religious people to enthusiastically join frontline forces to look after Covid victims as they did in the past

The ministry asked provinces and cities to closely monitor the outbreak to detect unusual symptoms of the contagion in communities.

The ministry called on people to strictly follow health rules such as wearing masks, disinfecting hands, maintaining social distancing, avoiding gatherings and making medical declarations to contain the outbreak.

On Nov. 29, Father Joseph Mary Tran Hoa Hung, who is in charge of religious affairs in Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese, said the Delta variant is still ravaging the city, causing a high number of infections and deaths, while the new Omicron variant is emerging and threatening people's lives.

Father Hung said hospitals for Covid patients in the city called on the local Church to send religious volunteers to serve patients.

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He urged priests and religious people to enthusiastically join frontline forces to look after Covid victims as they did in the past.

Over 1,000 priests, deacons, religious and laypeople from the archdiocese and three dioceses of Ba Ria, Phu Cuong and Xuan Loc volunteered at hospitals for Covid patients from July to October.

During the past few days, the Southeast Asian country has recorded up to 14,000 new cases each day, the highest numbers since October when travel restrictions were eased.

Vietnam has confirmed 1,231,939 infections and 25,252 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic last year.

So far nearly 51 million people have been fully administered Covid-19 vaccines and another 22 million were given one dose since mass inoculation was rolled out in March. The country has used eight brands of vaccines — Comirnaty, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Janssen, Vero Cell, Hayat-Vax, Sputnik V and Abdala.

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