Vietnam accelerates vaccinations in Covid-19 epicentre Ho Chi Minh City

A local resident rides her bicycle past a make-shift barricade of brick-stacks and a parked truck to stop unauthorised travel at a neighbourhood in Hanoi on July 30, 2021 amidst the government imposed two-week lockdown to stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. - AFP

HANOI, Aug 1 (Reuters): Vietnam will accelerate its vaccine rollout in Covid-19 hotspot Ho Chi Minh City and build more field hospitals, authorities said on Thursday, as it battles a worsening wave of infections driven by the virulent Delta variant.

After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam has been facing record daily increases in infections since late April.

The health ministry said in a statement it will simplify procedures in order to speed up vaccinations in Ho Chi Minh City - Vietnam's business hub and largest population centre. It is aiming to administer at least one shot to 70% of the city's 9 million residents over the next month.

The city currently administers between 70,000 and 80,000 coronavirus vaccine doses per day.

"It must be done quickly, using up all the vaccines as they arrive," Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said on Thursday during a meeting with municipal authorities.

Vaccination centres will remain open late in the evening and more medical staff will be deployed to the city, the ministry said. Procedures before and after the shots will be shortened.

Vietnam, with a population of 98 million, has so far administered over 5.3 million vaccine doses, but fewer than 500,000 people have been fully vaccinated.

Vietnam recorded 8,624 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, including 8,620 locally transmitted and four imported, according to the country's Ministry of Health.

The new infections brought the total tally to 145,686, with 1,306 deaths, the ministry said.

Among the community cases, 4,180 were reported in the southern epicentre Ho Chi Minh City, 2,075 in the nearby southern Binh Duong province, and 544 in the southern Long An province.

The outbreak has forced around one third of Vietnam's cities and provinces to impose strict restrictions on movement, including in the capital Hanoi and the central tourist hub Danang.

Rising infection numbers have also forced labour-intensive businesses, including Nike and Adidas suppliers, in Ho Chi Minh City and neighbouring industrial provinces to halt production.

Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday (July 28) launched a new field hospital, the health ministry said, adding to more than a dozen set up recently to provide tens of thousands of beds for sick patients.

"The city is switching its focus to treatment to limit the number of deaths," a separate statement posted on the website of the central government said on Thursday.

Vietnam has previously concentrated most its resources on contact tracing and quarantining. - Reuters

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