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Covid-19 transmission risk in Vietnam still worrisome: Health Minister

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HCMC – Vietnam has not reported any fresh case of Covid-19 via community transmission for 50 days, but the risk of transmission in the country remains high, especially due to illegal border crossings, said Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long at an online conference held on January 20.

Some countries in the region are still operating international flights. A number of Vietnamese citizens living overseas returned to Vietnam by road after flying commercial flights to these countries. Illegal crossings continue unabated, even though the national steering committee for Covid-19 infection prevention and control had asked them to enter the country legally and implement the 14-day mandatory quarantine, he said.

Data from the Health Ministry showed that competent forces arrested 100-150 people per day for illegal entry and the figure even rose to 500 on some days.

Dang Quang Tan, head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, said that competent forces recently discovered that 177 foreigners—167 Chinese, eight Cambodians, one New Zealander and one Canadian—and 1,843 Vietnamese citizens entered the country illegally. All of them were taken to quarantine centers.

Tan added that over 96 million coronavirus infections and two million deaths have been reported in the world, with the United States currently reporting the highest number of infections.

During the first two weeks of this year, a whopping 12.3 million infections had been confirmed, accounting for 13% of the total cases.

According to the World Health Organization, a new coronavirus variant detected in the UK in mid-December last year has spread to more than 50 countries and territories. Another variant of the virus in South Africa also spread to 23 countries.

In Vietnam, the coronavirus patients over the past months are mostly imported cases. During the first 20 days of this year, the country reported 75 imported cases, equivalent to 8.4% of its total imported cases.

Given the high risk of transmission, the national health authority had proposed to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc measures to fight against the disease by tightening entry by air. As a result, under the Government leader’s directives, the country will hardly operate international flights including repatriation ones from now until the upcoming Lunar New Year to curb the spread of the disease.

Further, Minister Long asked the local authorities to encourage local people to report cases of illegal entry and violation of quarantine requirements.

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