Vietnam detects first omicron variant infections

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Jan 19 (EFE).- Vietnam has detected its first three community infections of the contagious Covid-19 omicron variant at a time the country is reducing movement restrictions imposed in the last two years, local media reported Wednesday.

The three positives were detected over the weekend in Ho Chi Minh City, the most populous city, and Tuesday night analyses revealed they corresponded to the omicron variant, for which authorities have started a process to detect and isolate people in contact.

Vietnam had detected 70 cases of omicron in travelers who tested positive upon entering the country and were immediately quarantined, so the infections had not spread among the community.

The news comes at a time when Vietnam is continuously relaxing some restrictions that have been in place for almost two years and when the country’s borders, closed since March 2020, are gradually reopening up to international tourism.

The Health Ministry said last week that the population should be vigilant against the risk of the omicron variant spreading in the country and asked people to avoid crowded places and get fully vaccinated.

After a slow start to the vaccination campaign last year, authorities accelerated the process in recent months and 74 percent of its 98 million inhabitants have received two doses, while in some places, such as Ho Chi Minh City, the third booster dose is being given at a large pace.

The high vaccination rate has cushioned the impact of infections, in the highest figures since the start of the pandemic, with an average of more than 18,000 infections and 169 deaths per day in the last week.

Vietnam, which emerged almost unscathed from the first year of the pandemic, has recorded more than 2 million infections and more than 36,000 deaths in total.

The irruption of the omicron comes with little more than a week to go until the Lunar New Year holidays, the longest for the Vietnamese, with millions of people traveling throughout the country to go sightseeing or reunite with families in their provinces of origin. EFE


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