Update: 19:53 | 30/01/2021
The Health Ministry confirmed 27 new community transmissions of Covid-19 on Saturday night as the latest outbreak spreads to more localities, raising the infection tally to 207.
One of the new cases is a 28-year-old man coming back to Ho Chi Minh City from Hai Duong Province, Vietnam's current biggest Covid-19 hotspot. He had been to a wedding in Hai Duong together with a cousin, who was later confirmed as a Covid-19 patient linked to the cluster in the northern province's Chi Linh Town.
Soldiers spray disinfectants at a centralized quarantine facility in Hai Duong Province, January 30, 2021.
Two other cases are a couple in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, related to the outbreak in Chi Linh.
A 40-year-old man in Hanoi's Nam Tu Liem District and a 34-year-old man in Dong Anh District were confirmed infected with the coronavirus. Both are linked to the cluster in Hai Duong Province, around two hours to the east of the capital.
Quang Ninh Province also recorded another four Covid-19 patients, all connected to Chi Linh hotspot.
The 18 remaining cases are from the Covid-19 epicenter Hai Duong.
The health ministry also reported an imported Covid-19 patient on Saturday night, being a 47-year-old American expert landing at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat Airport on Thursday. He was quarantined on arrival.
The new Covid-19 wave began on Thursday after a gap of 55 days, and has spread to at least seven localities, including Hanoi and HCMC with 207 people confirmed infected as of Saturday night.
The latest outbreak comes just a couple of weeks before Tet, Vietnam's biggest and most important festival, an occasion for family reunions that will see millions travel home.
The sources of transmissions of the outbreak have not been identified, with the first patients confirmed being a man working at Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh and a woman working at Vietnam Poyun Electronics Co. Ltd in Chi Linh Town of Hai Duong.
As the speed of transmission has been proved to be the fastest ever since the epidemic broke out in Vietnam, health experts are analyzing the virus strains on the first two patients based on the theory that it could be the U.K. variant, which is 70 percent more transmissible compared to previous strains.
Amid rising fears of the Covid-19 pandemic, Thai Binh Province in northern Vietnam, which neighbors Hanoi, allowed 350,000 students to stay at home from Monday to ensure safety. Earlier, thousands of students in Hai Duong, Quang Ninh and Bac Ninh have been allowed to stay away from classes until further notice.
The health ministry Saturday said it has approved Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca PLC for domestic inoculation. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also instructed the ministry to buy Covid-19 vaccines in the first quarter amid the resurgence of the pandemic.
Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the vaccine has been approved under emergent circumstances to help fight Covid-19. AstraZeneca has pledged to provide Vietnam with around 30 million doses this year, with the first coming in the first quarter.
Vietnam has registered 1,767 cases and 35 deaths so far.
The pandemic has infected more than 102.5 million people worldwide, killing more than 2.2 million.