Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 spread in the city with 25 people – who either work at the airport, or are connected to those who work at the airport - having tested positive for the virus.
HCMC health authorities announced on Monday morning four new cases, with 20 additional people announced as positive in the early afternoon. All 20 of the additional positive cases are people who are family and friends of the five airport workers who had earlier tested positive.
According to reports, all of the new COVID-19 positive patients are being quarantined at the Cu Chi hospital facilities.
"Patient 1979" first tested positive for the virus on Saturday, February 6th when he reported to work at the airport, after having felt sick since three days earlier. He was subsequently sent to the hospital, and immediately after, the airport began testing more than 1,000 other TSN staff and workers.
Over the weekend, the airport was sanitized and patient contract tracing procedures were put into effect for the infected individual.
The source of Patient 1979's infection has been identified, but authorities have said that his brother, who lives in Binh Duong with Patient 1979, has also tested positive for the virus. Contract tracking for 1979 has identified 57 other people had close contact with Patient 1979 and who are not being monitored.
Nguyen Tri Dung, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Disease Control Centre said that with the city recording 28 new cases on Sunday and Monday that the situation was very serious.
"All the new cases have been sent to hospitals for quarantine and treatment," he said. "We are quickly carrying out tracing work for people who had close contact with them."
HCMC authorities have not announced plans to enforce any citywide lockdowns or limits on business operations, but some neighborhoods are being blockaded.
HCMC authorities are optimistic that they have procedures in place to quickly respond to any new cases, and they are hopeful that the upcoming Tet holidays will not cause a surge of new cases, but they said they will remain vigilant and have the health care resources in place to quickly respond if any new cases are identified.
With the new cases announced in HCMC on Monday, the country’s third wave COVID-19 count now stands at 422 domestic cases, with people infected in 12 cities and provinces.