Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has requested the country’s biggest city to explain the reason behind some 150,000 unreported positive coronavirus cases that were detected through mass testing since August 20.
The request was made after health authorities of Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday asked the ministry to update to the national Covid-19 monitoring system the 150,000 positive cases found through rapid antigen tests, citing that the figure would cause significant changes to the city’s overall pandemic situation.
If the cases get recognized, the southern city – currently the COVID-19 hotbed of the country – would see its death rate fall sharply to some 2.8 percent versus more than 4 percent as calculated previously, they explained.
Therefore, the city’s Department of Health is required to explain the unrecognized COVID-19 cases and learn from its tardy consulting and reporting to the ministry, the health ministry said in its dispatch issued on Tuesday.
The city earlier found the positive cases via rapid tests performed since August 20, but under the ministry’s current procedures, virus carriers are recognized as patients only when their infections are confirmed by RT-PCR tests.
All the 150,000 positive cases were monitored and received medication bags like confirmed COVID-19 patients, said a representative of the department.
Meanwhile, the ministry asserted that its dispatch sent to the city last month states that people who have been placed under home quarantine after being found infected with COVID-19 through rapid testing are considered as COVID-19 patients.
The dispatch also provides an instruction that daily numbers of positive cases include those found through rapid tests, the ministry said.
If the ministry recognizes the 150,000 positive cases, they will send the city’s COVID-19 caseload jumping to over 526,000 by Tuesday, up by about 40 percent.
The city is continuing to speed up coronavirus testing, mainly in very high-risk areas to promptly identify positive cases and treat patients.
It has also accelerated COVID-19 vaccination as part of the preparations for reopening social and economic activities under new normal conditions from October 1 after months of lockdown.
To date, the city, whose population is over nine million, has administered some 6.82 million first vaccine doses and over 2.83 million second jabs for its residents aged 18 and over.
Since the pandemic hit the country in early 2020, the city has registered 376,314 COVID-19 cases and 14,501 deaths, leading the country in both infection cases and death toll.
Nationwide, the Southeast Asian country has documented 766,051 COVID-19 cases, including 538,454 recoveries and 18,758 deaths, the Ministry of Health reported on Monday.
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