Authorities in Vietnam have been taking various measures to respond to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the country on Tuesday after spreading to over 100 countries.
A man who arrived in Hanoi from the UK was the first case infected with the Omicron variant in Vietnam, the Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday.
He landed in the Vietnamese capital on December 19 and was quarantined upon arrival.
After he tested positive for COVID-19, health experts conducted genome sequencing and discovered that he was carrying the Omicron variant.
The patient is receiving treatment at 108 Military Central Hospital in Hanoi. He is currently in stable conditions and does not have any clinical symptom.
The hospital had performed genome sequencing on over 1,000 samples of COVID-19 patients in the country since September, but most of them were carrying the Delta variant.
First reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by South Africa on September 24, the Omicron mutant, a.k.a. the B.1.1.529 variant, was designated by WHO as a variant of concern two days later.
The variant has now been reported in over 100 countries, with health experts stating it appears to be more contagious but less virulent than previous strains.
At a meeting on Monday, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son said that Vietnam had administered the second COVID-19 vaccine doses to about 70 percent of its population.
However, an expert from the health ministry said that a third shot is necessary to prevent infection caused by the Omicron mutant.
A lower number of infections will thus reduce the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the country, he added.
The Ministry of Health plans to finish providing the third dose to local residents at the earliest, with priorities given to people over 50 years old and those with underlying conditions.
Ho Chi Minh City was among the first in the country to begin providing the third shot to residents on December 10.
The southern metropolis is currently in the lead with nearly 654,000 third jabs given so far.
Since December 20, the health ministry has allocated more than 2.3 million vaccine doses to Hanoi to administer the second and third shots to its citizens given rising infections in the capital.
Aside from boosting vaccination pace, wearing face masks, filing health declarations, keeping a safe distance, sanitizing hands, and avoiding large gatherings also play an important role, according to another Ministry of Health expert.
People have been doing a good job in following these basic regulations, the expert stated, adding that the face mask has become a familiar item nowadays.
The country still needs to improve its preparedness by raising its treatment capacity in terms of emergency beds, medicine, and medical oxygen to get ready for a surge in COVID-19 cases, he continued.
Vietnam may report more cases of the Omicron variant as regular international flights are to be resumed next year, but people should remain calm in order to effectively respond to the pandemic, health officials said.