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Vietnam’s capital on Monday extended COVID-19 restrictions for a further two weeks, as authorities launched a plan to test up to 1.5 million people for the coronavirus in higher-risk areas of the capital to contain rising infections.
The Southeast Asian country dealt successfully with the virus for much of the pandemic, but the virulent delta variant has proved more challenging in recent months.
Hanoi, which has ordered people to stay at home and has halted all non-essential activities since July, has now divided the city into “red,” “orange” and “green” zones based on infection risk.
“Accordingly, people in red areas must shelter in place and one person of every household there will be tested three times per week,” a statement from city authorities said, noting that in other zones people would be tested every five to seven days.
Barricades on Monday separated red zones from other areas, photographs posted on social media and media outlets showed.
Hanoi authorities expect up to 1.5 million test samples to be collected in the next week. The government is eager to keep the outbreak from reaching the intensity seen in Ho Chi Minh City.
Hanoi has been reporting on average 50 cases daily and has recorded over 4,000 cases since the pandemic began, official data showed.
Although the numbers are still low, authorities are wary after the delta variant helped drive up infections across the country to over 524,000 cases.
One third of Hanoi’s eight million residents have been given at least one dose of a vaccine and on Sunday the health ministry called on the capital and Ho Chi Minh City to vaccinate all adult residents with at least one dose by Sept. 15.
Vietnam has one of the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in the region, with only 3.3 per cent of its 98 million people fully vaccinated, and 15.4 per cent with one shot.
What’s happening across Canada
- COVID-19 exposure notices issued for 2 Air North flights between Whitehorse and Vancouver.
What’s happening around the world
As of Monday, more than 220.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.5 million.
In Europe, Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Monday that no country should be left behind in the vaccination effort against COVID-19, speaking at the end of a two-day G20 health summit in Rome.
He said health ministers were working on what has been dubbed the Rome Pact. A key part of the agreement is the fairer distribution of vaccines beyond wealthy nations.
In the Middle East, many Israelis made last-minute preparations for the Jewish New Year holiday, which will be marked on Monday evening as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place. The central market place in Western Jerusalem was packed with shoppers buying groceries for the two-day holiday.
On Sunday, the country’s tourism ministry said it will begin allowing organized foreign tour groups into Israel, beginning Sept. 19.
Tourists must be vaccinated against the coronavirus, present a negative PCR test before their flight and undergo both PCR and serological testing upon arrival. Visitors must quarantine in their hotels until results come back — a process expected to take no more than 24 hours.
In the Americas, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert says he believes delivery of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will be able beginning Sept. 20 for Americans who received Pfizer doses, while Moderna’s may end up rolling out a couple of weeks later.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that U.S. health regulators need more time to study data from Moderna Inc. on its booster’s efficacy.
In the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday said nationwide coronavirus curbs would be lifted on Wednesday, with exception of the biggest city of Auckland, as the country aims to control an outbreak of the delta variant. Ardern said the lockdown that began last week would continue in Auckland until at least Sept. 14.
In Africa, COVID-19 vaccine shipments ramped up in August, but the continent is still set to miss its goal of vaccinating the most vulnerable 10 per cent in every country by the end of September, according to Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of the World Health Organization for Africa.
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