Covid-19 Cases & Deaths Rise
But Clusters Remain Contained
Good morning - here’s a recap of the weekend’s news related to Vietnam’s ongoing COVID-19 wave, the country’s largest since the start of the pandemic. If you’re reading this through a shared link and would like to sign up to the Vietnam Weekly, you can do so below.
On to the news.
No End in Sight
The COVID-19 case total related to this ongoing outbreak has reached 2,164, up from 1,786 on Friday morning, with cases detected in 30 of 63 provinces and cities. The virus-linked death toll has risen to 42, with seven deaths now occurring during this wave. Bac Giang and Bac Ninh still have by far the largest case loads.
Officials in Ho Chi Minh City tightened regulations after five cases were found last week (some of which have been linked to Da Nang’s outbreak), with small restaurants banned from offering dine-in services and public gatherings of more than 20 not allowed, while residents are discouraged from visiting the Nguyen Hue and Bui Vien pedestrian streets. Churches in town have also suspended mass services.
City authorities have asked people to refrain from going outside unless necessary, but it’s not clear how strictly that will be enforced.
Thankfully - and, to be frank, oddly - no further cases have been detected in the metropolis, but I’m not sure what kind of testing is going on here. One local media story said on Friday that out of 244,700 people who have entered Ho Chi Minh City since the April 30/ May 1 holiday, only 5,100 had been tested.
I’ve heard quite a few people speculate that a full-scale lockdown will be imposed in HCMC this week now that the National Assembly voting is out of the way, but I’m not convinced - Hanoi has far more cases and the capital hasn’t fully shut down.
Nationally, the situation is certainly concerning, though it is good that no large new clusters have appeared - daily case numbers are still high, but they remain linked to known sources.
One to keep an eye on is the lockdown of an apartment building in the huge Vinhomes Times City development in Hanoi after a three year-old Indian child living there tested positive yesterday. Their mother has also tested positive, and members of a Vietnamese family in Times City have too.
All of the contact tracing and testing going on has, according to this story, exhausted medical workers, with a picture of two people in protective gear sleeping on a sidewalk in Dien Bien Province spreading on social media.
In a very interesting vaccine-related development, a research center under the Ministry of Health is negotiating with an unnamed Russian partner to receive technology needed to begin producing the Sputnik V vaccine in Vietnam. If this goes well, 50 million doses could be produced per year domestically.
And some travel companies are trying to launch week-long “vaccine tours” to the US that would allow Vietnamese to fly to America, receive the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, and return home. However, that last part is the tricky bit, as flights into Vietnam remain extremely limited, meaning prices for these tours could be as high as $7,000.
Back Friday with the normal weekly recap.