HCMC reports presence of VOIs causing increase in Covid-19 cases

The health sector in Ho Chi Minh City reported the presence of variants of interest (VOIs) with heightened transmissibility across multiple nations.

The health sector in HCMC reports presence of VOIs

According to the Center for Disease Control of Ho Chi Minh City’s data, from December 18, 2023 to January 22, 2024, hospitals citywide received 94 Covid-19 inpatients who are city dwellers and those hailing from other provinces. Of the 94 above-mentioned inpatients, 17 severe patients had to use oxygen concentrators without deaths due to Covid-19.

All severe cases are people in the risk group with severe underlying diseases and they have not received enough Covid-19 vaccine shots according to the instructions of the Ministry of Health.

The Ho Chi Minh City-located Hospital of Tropical Diseases and Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) carried out gene sequencing from specimens of 16 patients positive for SARS-CoV-2 treated at the hospital in December 2023.

Of 16 patients, 12 were recorded to be infected with the Omicron JN.1 sub-variant, accounting for 75 percent. In addition, one patient was diagnosed to have the JN.1.1 variant while two other patients were reportedly infected with BA.2.86.1 and one case with XDD. Worryingly, the number of Covid-19 hospitalizations at the Ho Chi Minh City Tropical Diseases Hospital has tended to increase gradually in the last six weeks.

The JN.1 variant is a sub-variant from the BA.2.86 variant of Omicron, classified by WHO as a VOI and is the cause of an increase in cases and deaths in several countries, including Thailand.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, the JN.1 sub-variant has also appeared in Ho Chi Minh City after the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported it was the fastest growing and dominant variant in the US in December 2023. Sub-variant of the Omicron strain of coronavirus JN.1 has been classified by WHO as a variant of interest (VOI) since December 18, 2023 because of its rapidly increasing spread.

The emergence of variants that posed an increased risk to global public health prompted the World Health Organization to characterize some as variants of interest (VOIs). Presently, the WHO has identified XBB sub-lineages XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, BA.2.86 and EG.5 as the current VOIs. Except for the EG.5 variant, all WHO’s variants of interest were discovered to circulate in HCMC.

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