Vietnam OKs vaccine, cuts short congress | Ralph-Lauren

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Vietnam has approved its first coronavirus vaccine and cut short a key ruling Communist Party meeting as it battles its biggest flare-up yet of COVID-19, state media reports.

The new outbreak, in a country of some 98 million people that has been highly successful in curbing the spread of the pandemic, began on Thursday and has spread to the capital Hanoi, where the ruling party is holding its five-yearly congress to pick a new leadership.

Thanks to targeted mass testing and a centralised quarantine program, Vietnam has recorded just 1739 cases since the disease was detected a year ago, including 873 locally transmitted infections, according to official data.

Authorities rushed to test tens of thousands after the health ministry reported two locally transmitted cases, one of whom was exposed to a person who had tested positive in Japan in mid-January for the more contagious UK variant.

Most of the new cases were in the northern province of Hai Duong, where 2340 factory workers have been isolated after one employee came into contact with the person who tested positive in Japan.

The health ministry reported 32 new infections in Hai Duong, and two in neighbouring Quang Ninh province, bringing the number of fresh cases in the current outbreak to 180.

Late on Friday, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Vietnam must have a vaccine in the first quarter of 2021.

Following Phuc’s comments, the health ministry approved the vaccine from AstraZeneca for domestic inoculation, the government said on Saturday.

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, said it would separately seek to secure two million vaccine doses for the city’s population.

State media said on Saturday the congress would end on Monday, a day earlier than planned.

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