Vietnam approves AstraZeneca vaccine, cuts short Communist Party congress

Hanoi: Vietnam approved its first COVID-19 vaccine and cut short an important ruling Communist Party meeting, state media reported on Saturday, as the country battled its biggest coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began.

Vietnam, a country of some 98 million people that has so far been highly successful in combatting the virus, has recorded 208 new cases since reporting two locally transmitted cases in the northern province of Hai Duong on Thursday, including 62 cases reported on Saturday.

A student is scanned for temperature before entering Dinh Cong secondary school in Hanoi, Vietnam.Credit:

“The disease has spread to the community, the variant is dangerous and spreading very quickly,” a statement said, adding that all the cases in Gia Lai were linked to the Hai Duong epicentre.

Authorities rushed to test thousands of people as authorities confirmed the outbreak had spread to Hanoi, where the ruling party is holding its five-yearly congress to pick a new leadership.

State media reported the congress would end on Monday, a day earlier than planned. The reports did not say why, and were later removed from the websites of official state news outlets.

The Vietnamese health ministry approved a vaccine from AstraZeneca PLC for domestic inoculation hours after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said late on Friday that the country must have a vaccine in the first quarter.

The government had previously said it was in talks to procure 30 million doses of the vaccine.

The port city of Haiphong, where a case linked to the new outbreak has been detected, also said it would separately seek to secure 2 million vaccine doses for its population.

Reuters

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