Vietnam sees record coronavirus cases as curbs tighten

A family wears protective masks as they ride a motorbike in the street in Hanoi
A family wears protective masks as they ride a motorbike in the street amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hanoi, Vietnam, January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Thanh Hue

HANOI, July 9 (Reuters) - Vietnam brought in tighter coronavirus measures on Friday in more areas including the commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, as authorities reported another daily record in new infections.

After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam has since late April faced a more stubborn outbreak that has prompted calls for the government to accelerate inoculations.

The health ministry reported 1,625 new infections on Friday, the fifth straight day of more than 1,000 cases. Vietnam has recorded 26,010 infections overall and 110 deaths.

Three-quarters of those were in the epicentre Ho Chi Minh City, which on Friday began 15 days of broad movement restrictions.

This week, panic buying broke out in the city and the neighbouring province of Dong Nai as people stocked up ahead of the curbs. Television footage on Friday showed empty streets and police stopping vehicles at checkpoints. read more

Authorities on Friday set a target to vaccinate 50% of people aged 18 or older by the end of the year and 70% by the end of March.

"Vaccination against COVID-19 is a necessary and important measure to contain the disease and ensure socio-economic development," the health ministry said in a statement.

The government had previously said it aimed to vaccinate 70% to 75% of the country's 98 million population by the end of this year or early next year.

The ministry said it has clinched deals and commitments for 105 million vaccine doses, lower than the 150 million stated previously.

Online newspaper VnExpress reported the ministry had licensed a local company to import 5 million doses of China's Sinopharm vaccine.

Vietnam has so far received around 6 million vaccine doses, mostly under the international COVAX sharing facility. About 250,000 people have been fully vaccinated.

Editing by Ed Davies

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