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PM urges Covid vigilance as new variants emerge

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – The prime minister has ordered cities, provinces and relevant departments to stay vigilant against Covid-19, especially at border gates, as new variants of the coronavirus have emerged.

People entering the country from nations and territories hit by new and dangerous Covid variants should undergo testing and quarantine, while healthcare centers and hospitals were told to ramp up monitoring to promptly detect new variants.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said in a telegram sent on January 8 that XBB, a new Omicron subvariant, can spread faster than other variants. The subvariant has emerged in many countries.

New Covid infections are expected to increase during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday when the travel season reaches its peak. Meanwhile, vaccine protection against Covid has waned over time.

As such, the prime minister asked localities to speed up Covid vaccinations to ensure people in vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and those with underlying medical problems, can get a booster shot on schedule.

People should stay on high alert for Covid, said the prime minister.

The Ministry of Health was tasked with keeping a close watch on the domestic and global pandemic situation to promptly apply necessary measures and work with other agencies to respond to the complicated development of the disease, the local media reported.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism was told to ask tourism service providers and tour operators to ensure the safety of travelers and residents and enhance inspections of festivals and events during the holiday.

As China reopened its borders after nearly three years of fighting the pandemic, the Huu Nghi and Mong Cai international border gates in Lang Son and Quang Ninh provinces on January 8 saw thousands of Chinese nationals pass through to return to their country. Meanwhile, many experts and highly-skilled workers entered Vietnam through the two borders on that day.

Subvariant XBB was detected in HCMC and Tay Ninh Province on January 7, posing a threat for an increase in Covid infections in the country.

XBB was first found in October last year, spreading in over 70 nations worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

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