The results of the three individual's tests were released following the Central Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology sampling COVID-19 patients in the northern provinces of Vinh Phuc, Ha Nam, Hung Yen, and Ha Tinh for genetic sequencing as a way of identifying the specific variant of the virus.
This comes after clusters of COVID-19 infections have been detected in several Vietnamese localities in recent times amid the complicated development of the pandemic in neighbouring nations.
Amid the current situation, the Minister of Health has instructed leading institutes to sequence the genes of cases who have been recently infected with COVID-19 in order to assess the risk of transmission before deciding to take appropriate preventive measures.
Furthermore, six samples in Ha Nam, two samples in Hung Yen, and two samples in Ha Tinh, all indicate that they are the B.1.1.7 variant which originates from the UK.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dac Phu, former director of the Preventive Medicine Department under the Ministry of Health, said that genetic sequencing can allow the health sector to identify which specific strains of the virus people are infected with. In addition, it will provide information regarding the characteristics of the strain, how it causes disease, how rapidly it spreads, and if it is an old or new variant. It is hoped that building up more information and knowledge will help the country to continue its anti-pandemic efforts.
According to Nguyen Hong Ha, vice chairman of the Vietnam Society of Infectious Diseases, the SARS-CoV-2 strains originally detected in the UK, Brazil, and India all have a fast spread rate. Therefore, if arrivals are not competently controlled and an isolation period is not strictly enforced after individuals enter the country, then the virus will be able to penetrate communities, therefore causing further rapid outbreaks. Case studies in other nations show that when these variations are being widely transmitted it severely increases the risk of health care systems collapsing.
This comes after the Ministry of Health sent a document on May 4 regarding the extension of the concentrated quarantine period to directors of Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Preventive Medicine Centres nationwide.
The new quarantine measures will apply from May 4 until further notice is given by the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
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