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Monday, June 27, 2022

Health Ministry proposes suspending flights from/to 7 countries detecting Omicron variant

By Minh Duy

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HCMC – The Ministry of Health has proposed suspending flights from/to seven countries—South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho and Mozambique—that have detected the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

In addition, entry permits for passengers coming from these countries would be suspended.

According to the ministry, Vietnam has yet to detect any cases infected with the new variant.

However, to control the pandemic locally and prevent the transmission of the Omicron variant into the country, the ministry has asked the competent agencies to keep a close watch on the developments of the pandemic to detect signs of the new variant at the earliest.

The ministry also asked the institutes of hygiene and epidemiology and Pasteur institute to conduct gene sequencing of Covid-19 cases suspected of being infected with the new variant, especially cases coming to Vietnam from countries in southern Africa.

The ministry will closely coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other competent agencies to apply international health regulations to promptly detect new coronavirus variants and come up with appropriate response plans.

Multiple countries in Europe and America have issued decisions to restrict passengers from southern African countries. On November 27, Israel decided to ban all foreigners from entering the country, becoming the first country in the world to completely close its borders to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant.

Earlier, WHO announced that the new coronavirus variant called Omicron (B.1.1.529) had been detected in some southern African countries.

According to scientists, the Omicron variant was first detected in Botswana on November 24, with up to 32 mutations in the spike protein. This is the most mutated coronavirus variant, which was forecast to spread faster and pose a higher risk of reinfection than other variants.

It was even supposed to transmit 500% faster than the Delta variant, which has been hitting Vietnam in the current fourth Covid-19 wave.

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