Latest Coronavirus News in Vietnam & Southeast Asia August 13
UNESCO-recognised Hoi An continues to apply social distancing
Social distancing order remains in place to prevent the spread of the virus in the community in Hoi An, a major tourist destination in central Vietnam
Quang Nam province has decided to extend the ongoing social distancing order imposed on Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, starting from August 14 in an effort to curb the novel coronavirus.
According to Tran Van Tan, vice chairman of Quang Nam Provincial People’s Committee, local residents have been advised to remain indoors as much as possible and should only venture out for food, medicine, or other essential daily items.
Citizens are encouraged to don face masks when in public, thoroughly wash their hands with soap or disinfectant, avoid gatherings of over two people in public areas, and maintain a distance of at least two metres from each other.
Essential services, including markets, supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, factories, and production workshops, have been granted permission to remain open.
Furthermore, the province has also requested that Hoi An temporarily suspend cultural and sporting events, festivals and religious rituals. All of the town’s tourist spots, including historical and cultural relics along with beaches, will now stop receiving visitors.
Public transport services in the local area will also be forced to halt.
The social distancing order is set to remain in place until further notice.
One more COVID-19 patient dies in Vietnam, tally now at 18
A 52-year-old woman in Cam Le district in the central city of Da Nang has become the 18th patient who died of COVID-19-related complications, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son announced on August 13.
The patient had suffered from end-stage chronical kidney failure, hypertension and diabetes Type 2.
She was treated at the Da Nang Hospital from July 15-31, during which she tested positive for the coronavirus that causes the disease.
On July 31, the patient was transferred to the Da Nang Lung Hospital. The next day, she suffered respiratory failure and shortness of breath, and was moved to Da Nang Hospital’s Department of Tropical Medicine.
She was transferred to Hoa Vang Health Centre on August 4 for further treatment and was confirmed death at 7pm on August 12.
Doctors attributed her death to severe pneumonia caused by COVID-19 with underlying diseases of end-stage chronical kidney failure, hypertension and diabetes Type 2.
Vietnam reports three more COVID-19 cases on August 13 morning
Three new coronavirus infections were confirmed in Vietnam on August 13 morning, lifting the national tally to 883, according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
The new patients, aged from 40 to 83, include one returning from Saudi Arabia, and two linked to the Da Nang Hospital hotspot.
These brought the number of cases connected to the outbreak in Da Nang to 421.
Earlier, 14 new COVID-19 infection cases were confirmed on August 12 evening, including one in Hanoi and 13 others related to Da Nang city.
Patient No.867, a 63-year-old man, from northern Hai Duong province, had health checks-up at the Hanoi-based Central Military Hospital 108 on August 8 and then he came to his daughter’s home in Hanoi’s Thanh Tri district.
A day later, he was examined and admitted to Thanh Nhan hospital with severe pneumonia.
On August 11, test results conducted by the Thanh Nhan Hospital and the Hanoi Centre for Disease Control showed that he was positive to novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.
Meanwhile, all 13 other patients are linked to the disease hotspot in central Da Nang city.
Among the patients confirmed in the country, 322 were imported cases and quarantined upon arrival.
The Steering Committee’s Treatment Sub-committee said that 409 patients or 46.3 percent of the total have fully recovered so far.
Among the remaining active patients, 35 have tested negative for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 at least once, and 51 others at least twice.
A total of 133,340 people who had close contact with patients or returned from pandemic-hit areas are being quarantined nationwide, including 5,361 at hospitals, 25,043 at concentrated quarantine establishments and 102,936 at home.
Hospitals remain vigilant in fighting COVID-19
Bitter lessons from careless practices at medical facilities during the two COVID-19 outbreaks have set alarm bells ringing at hospitals nationwide, pushing them to consolidate their check-up and treatment protocols.
Duc Giang General Hospital in Hanoi.
Pedestrian access with notice boards reminding people to keep a safe distance.
Mandatory health declarations.
Hand sanitiser is readily accessible.
Health workers equipped with face shields and surgical masks.
Patients not exhibiting symptoms such as coughing and fever are told to go upstairs for a medical check-up. Medical staff still wear face shields and surgical masks to prevent infection from any asymptomatic cases.
Medical staff make appointments beforehand for those with chronic diseases, to reduce patient density.
Similar protocols have been made mandatory in hospitals around Vietnam since the first COVID-19 outbreak, to mitigate the risk of infection and protect medical staff who have direct contact with many people every day.
Someone falling through the cracks could result in a massive outbreak. Bitter lessons can be learned from Bach Mai Hospital or, more recently, Da Nang Hospital C, where dozens of medical staff were infected and entire health facilities were quarantined. Hospitals remain vigilant, and implementing directions from the Ministry of Health plays an important role in the country’s fight against COVID-19./.
Free rides helping patients in Da Nang
To support patients at local health facilities amid the latest outbreak of COVID-19, many men in Da Nang city are offering them free rides home.
With lockdown being lifted, the Orthopaedic and Physical Rehabilitation Hospital of Da Nang is packed with dozens of drivers picking up patients. Drivers wearing protective gear are here to take patients home for free.
The drivers are all members of a charity called “Kind-hearted Rides”, which was established earlier this year by a group of young car owners in Da Nang to help disadvantaged patients, especially given COVID-19.
Free rides have been given to over 200 patients and family members over the last few days, regardless of the time or where they may live./.
Prime Minister orders effective COVID-19 prevention strategies
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc requested ministries and localities to build effective strategies to cope with COVID-19 in terms of economy and health, while chairing a virtual meeting with permanent members of the Government in Hanoi on August 12.
The PM hailed the health sector in such hot spots as central Da Nang city and neighbouring Quang Nam province for promptly zoning off outbreak areas and carrying out quick testing on a large scale as well as implementing seriously social distancing measures.
He pointed out that this week to the next one is a crucial time, so it is necessary to implement all necessary preventive measures.
He asked localities to ensure the sufficient supply of medical equipment for health workers – who are on the frontlines of the battle, as well as further enhance public awareness of the COVID-19 prevention work.
The PM urged the health sector to speed up the research of medicines and vaccines against COVID-19 and complete treatment regimen to minimise the fatalities.
Close monitoring of border areas must be maintained, he emphasised.
He ordered each locality to build an effective prevention strategy, both economically and medically, by evaluating the risks of separate areas, not necessarily applying lockdown measures for all parts of a city or district in a long time.
According to the Ministry of Health, the outbreak in the central city of Da Nang has been gradually controlled. The spread of the disease among the community has been limited and the number of new infections has dropped in recent days. Most of fatalities related to COVID-19 had underlying conditions.
Quang Tri locks down hamlet due to high risk of COVID-19 infection
Authorities in the central province of Quang Tri have locked down Bau hamlet in Gio Chau commune of Gio Linh district from 9pm on August 11 night.
Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Vo Van Hung signed a decision to temporarily lock down the hamlet as it is at high risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The provincial Department of Health has cooperated with the committee to carry out measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the hamlet.
Local police, soldiers, medical staff and relevant agencies have set up quarantine stations in the hamlet.
On August 11 afternoon, Quang Tri province recorded two more new cases of COVID-19. They were patients 861 and 862. Patient 861 is a 36-year-old woman, residing in Gio Linh district. She had close contact with patients 750 and 833.
Patient 862 is the mother of patient 832. She took care of patient 832 in Quang Tri General Hospital between August 2 and 7.
Patient 832 then became the 16th person to die of COVID-19-related complications in Vietnam on August 11 afternoon. He was suffering from type-1 diabetes, exhaustion and heart failure.
The province has recorded a total of six COVID-19 cases as of August 12 morning, including a death.
COVID-19 tracing app Bluezone hits 15.7 million users
Some 15.7 million smartphone users had downloaded Bluezone, a locally-developed contact-tracing app to identify and alert people who have interacted with COVID-19 patients, as of 11am on August 11, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC).
The number was 15.5 million higher than that on July 25, when Vietnam confirmed its first case of community transmission after 99 days, for an average of over a million downloads a day.
The central city of Da Nang saw the highest rate of smartphone users downloading the app, at 34.13 percent. It was followed by the capital city of Hanoi with 23.83 percent; the northern province of Quang Ninh, 22.61 percent; Ho Chi Minh City, 22.05 percent; and the northern province of Bac Ninh,17.84 percent.
As of August 6, thanks to the app, the health sector had verified 21 cases of F1 persons (who had close contact with COVID-19 patients, or F0), and F2 persons (who had been in close contact with F1).
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung has urged localities to step up communications work to have at least 30-40 percent of the population using the app.
While chairing an online meeting earlier this month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed that each citizen is a soldier and each house, hamlet, and residential area is a fortress in the fight against the pandemic.
He therefore recommended that everyone install the Bluezone app to facilitate the rapid tracing of infections.
Developed by tech firm Bkav, the app uses Bluetooth Low Energy, a wireless personal area network technology, to link with smartphones within a two-meter distance.
If a user is positive for SARS-CoV-2 (known as person F0), health authorities can identify those who had close contact with F1, and the system will alert them about the risk of infection.
They will be also provided with instructions on contacting health authorities for assistance.
The app is completely confidential, anonymous, and transparent, as it only stores data on users’ phones and does not transfer information or locations to the system.
The development of Bluezone was overseen by MIC and the Ministry of Health (MoH). It was launched on April 18.
Other apps have also proven effective in COVID-19 prevention and control.
As of August 11, nearly 874,500 medical declarations had been made via “tokhaiyte.vn” and the Vietnam Health Declaration rolled out by the Viettel Military Industry and Telecoms Group (Viettel).
Another 17.8 million health declarations were made via NCOVI, another app being used in the fight against the disease.
MIC and MoH have suggested that all Vietnamese people use NCOVI to report their health status and obtain up-to-date information.
Over 170 accommodation facilities serve as quarantine sites
|At a quarantine site (Photo: VNA)|
As many as 173 tourist accommodation establishments in 25 cities and provinces across Vietnam had been mobilised as of August 6 to serve as quarantine sites in the fight against COVID-19, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT).
With 11,733 rooms and 17,406 beds, the facilities are designated to offer paid quarantine services for foreign experts, investors, and skilled workers entering the country.
VNAT said the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently asked the People’s Committees of provinces and cities near international airports to review and update the list of accommodation facilities serving as paid quarantine sites and provide that list to the defence and health ministries.
Bac Ninh province houses the largest number of such accommodation facilities, with 18, followed by Thanh Hoa with 16, Dong Nai 15, Nghe An 14, Quang Ninh 12, Lam Dong 11, and Hai Duong 10.
As of the morning of August 12, Vietnam had recorded 866 COVID-19 patients since the first case was detected in January, including 321 imported cases.
Among them, 399, or 46.1 percent, have made full recovery, while 17 others have succumbed to the disease.
As many as 134,248 who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or came from pandemic-hit regions are under quarantine nationwide, including 5,365 at hospitals, 24,180 at other concentrated quarantine sites, and 104,703 at home or in accommodation facilities.
More Vietnamese citizens brought home from US
Over 340 Vietnamese citizens from states around the US were flown home safely on August 11.
The flight was arranged by Vietnamese agencies, the Vietnamese Embassy in the US, US authorities, and national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines.
The Vietnamese Embassy sent members of staff to the airport to provide support.
Disease prevention measures were carried out during the flight. Upon landing at Van Don Airport in the northern province of Quang Ninh, all passengers and crew were given health checks and quarantined in line with regulations.
Stranded tourists test negative for SARS-CoV-2
All 625 tourists (including 23 foreigners) from HCM City have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2, and they will be taken home soon on four flights operated by Vietnam Airlines and VietJetAir from Da Nang Airport.
The city’s tourism department said seven flights are planned to carry more than 1,400 tourists (including 12 children under two) from Hanoi and HCM City who have been stranded in the city since social distancing began on July 27.
The city temporarily closed a market in Nai Hien Đong ward in Son Tra district after three COVID-19 patients visited the site, and more than 1,400 traders and local residents living in three apartments in the area were tested early this week.
The city’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has been taking samples of 4,000 in-patients (not related to COVID-19) and 4,000 relatives at the city’s locked down General Hospital.
All members of SHB Da Nang football club tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 according to results released on Wednesday (August 12). They will be isolated at home and at the club’s quarters for two weeks before training again.
Director of the club, Bui Xuan Hoa, said some players had visited the General Hospital for treatment, and one member of the team had indirect contact with a COVID-19 patient.
Donations of food and logistics worth VNĐ100 million (US$4,300) have been raised for poor people and the unemployed in Man Thai ward in Son Tra district.
Central Quang Tri Province locked down three buildings at Đong Ha City’s General Hospital as six COVID-19 patients were found at the site and living quarters. The city extended social distancing orders from Wednesday (August 12).
Up to 2,400 residents returning from COVID-19 hot spots in Da Nang and Quang Nam had been isolated for SARS-CoV-2 testing.
Quang Nam Province assigned a 100-bed quarantine centre in Núi Thanh district for those in close contact with COVID-19 patients.
Residents in locked down zones throughout the province all receive food worth VNĐ40,000 ($1.7) per day.
Nearly 1,000 people at isolation centres in Quang Ngai Province finished quarantine, and they will be isolated at home for two more weeks.
According to the provincial CDC, 171 people at quarantine centres still have a fever, but 143 tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 according to the latest results released on Wednesday. Up to 2,900 samples of isolated people also tested negative for SARS-CoV-2.
HN tracks people after suspected COVID-19 case
Hanoi’s Health Department has issued an urgent notice to find people who visited the Loc Vung Beer Shop since August 8 in TT3.13, Tu Hiep Commune, Thanh Tri District, regarding a suspected COVID-19 case on Wednesday morning.
People who had visited the bar are ordered to contact hotlines 0969.082.115; 0949.396.115 of the Hanoi Centre for Disease Control to receive necessary support.
In a quick report by the department, the suspected case was a 63-year-old man, of Tuyển Cử Village, Bình Giang District in the northern province of Hải Dương.
He showed signs of cough and tiredness on July 31. He took a taxi with his wife to 108 Military Hospital in Hanoi on August 8.
After the examination, the couple went to his daughter’s house in TT3.13, Tu Hiep Commune, Thanh Tri District, Hanoi and stayed overnight. His daughter was the owner of the bar.
He went to Thanh Nhan Hospital in Hanoi for examination and was diagnosed with severe pneumonia on Sunday.
The hospital sent his sample to Hanoi Centre for Disease Control for testing. The test's results returned negative for SARS-CoV-2 on Monday.
On Tuesday, the hospital took another sample which tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
His sample was sent to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology for confirmation.
Except for this suspected case, Hanoi has recorded seven COVID-19 cases since July 25, all connected to the outbreak in Da Nang.
Over 240 Vietnamese citizens flown back home from Singapore
More than 240 Vietnamese citizens were brought home on a flight of budget carrier Vietjet Air on August 12.
The flight was arranged by Vietnamese authorities, the Embassy of Vietnam in Singapore and the carrier, together with competent agencies of Singapore.
The passengers included children under 18, the elderly, the ill and those who in extremely disadvantaged circumstances. The Vietnamese Embassy also sent its staff to the airport to assist them with boarding procedures.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, disease prevention measures were carried out during the flight. Upon landing at Can Tho International Airport in the Mekong Delta city of the same name, the flight crew and all passengers were given heath examinations and quarantined in line with regulations.
Vietnamese authorities and overseas missions plan to arrange more flights to fly more Vietnamese citizens home, depending on their need and quarantine capacity at home.
Tourists stranded in Da Nang following outbreak flown to Hanoi
The first two flights bringing more than 400 tourists stranded in central Da Nang city since the outbreak in late July safely arrived in Hanoi on August 12.
These are the first of the seven flights specially arranged to bring back nearly 1,500 tourists from 17 provinces and cities in the country to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City between August 12-14, after flights to and from the central city were grounded in late July as part of the city’s social distancing measures to battle the resurgence of COVID-19.
Thousands of Vietnamese flocked to the central coastal city, a popular resort town, in July for summer vacations, taking advantage of promotions in a push for domestic tourism after three months of no reported local transmissions of COVID-19.
Their vacations were cut short, however, in late July, as news broke over the first local infection found in the city with a currently unknown source, which marked the explosion of new cases and the country’s first COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
All tourists coming to the airport must wear masks, face shields, gloves and many even wore full protective suits to avoid risks of the virus.
Security personnel and staff at Da Nang International Airport have helped tourists with procedures and ensured physical distancing.
The airplanes used during the flights, operated by flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and budget carrier Vietjet, will all be disinfected after landing.
All tourists will be quarantined on arrival, to prevent transmission in the community, as many returnees from Da Nang have been found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Earlier this week, Hanoi-based military units have prepared two army barracks outside Hanoi to receive 1,000 tourists about to be brought back.
Me Linh COVID-19 treatment hospital had also prepared 200-250 beds, and could raise the capacity to even 1,000 on the orders of the city.
All tourists will be tested twice before being released from quarantine.
HCM City’s Department of Health, on the other hand, asked that all registered tourists be tested for coronavirus first before going on flights bringing them back to HCM City. They will still be quarantined on landing.
As scheduled, there will be two more flights on August 13, carrying a total of 828 passengers, including 799 Vietnamese and 29 foreigners, from Da Nang to Hanoi.
Meanwhile, 625 passengers will be flown to HCM City on three flights on August 13 and 14.
Southeast Asian nations struggle with COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic continues spreading in Southeast Asian nations with thousands of new infection cases reported each day.
On August 12, the Philippine Health Ministry said the country recorded 4,444 new infections and 93 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of infections and fatalities to 143,749 and 2,404 cases, respectively.
The country currently records the highest number of infections in the region.
The same day, Indonesia announced 1,942 additional new cases, bringing the total to 130,718. Meanwhile, the number of deaths rose to 5,903, or 79 cases higher than a day earlier, a record in Southeast Asia.
In Singapore, there were 42 new infection cases, the lowest in the past nearly five months, most of them are workers under quarantine.
Last week, the island state announced that it successfully wiped out COVID-19 hotbeds at dormitories where about 300,000 workers are living.
Indonesia aims to produce coronavirus vaccine by mid-2021
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said over the last three months, the country has been developing a coronavirus vaccine with brand Merah Putih, which is hoped to be completed by mid-2021.
The vaccine is jointly developed by Indonesia's state-owned pharmaceutical holding company PT Bio Farma and China-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech and other stakeholders from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Republic of Korea (RoK), the President told reporters during his working visit to West Java province on August 11.
On July 21, a total of 2,400 doses of vaccine from Sinovac were handed over to Bio Farma for the trial of the third phase.
According to Honesti Basyir, Bio Farma CEO, the clinical trial of the vaccine is scheduled to run for six months, so it is targeted to be completed in January 2021.
If the clinical trial goes well, Bio Farma will produce it in the first quarter of 2021, he said, adding that the company has prepared production facilities with a maximum production capacity of 250 million doses per year.
Along with the vaccine development, Bio Farma has also conducted four other research to respond to the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including producing realtime polymerase chain reaction, convalescent plasma therapy, producing mobile BSL 3 laboratories, and manufacturing viral transport media./. VNA