HANOI: Vietnam reported on Sunday (Jan 31) 50 new COVID-19 infections, most linked to a new outbreak that began on Thursday in the northern province of Hai Duong, the Ministry of Health said.
The outbreak has spread to at least nine cities and provinces, including Ho Chi Minh city and capital Hanoi, with 238 locally transmitted infections, the ministry said. That has raised the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 1,817, with 35 deaths.
Authorities in Hanoi announced on Sunday that all schools in the city would close, after locking down several residential areas and a factory in the northern province of Hai Duong, the outbreak's epicentre, since the first cases of community transmission in almost two months were detected there last week.
Vietnam's ruling Communist Party re-elected on Sunday its 76-year-old chief Nguyen Phu Trong for a rare third five-year term, as the country battled its biggest coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began.
Trong, who emerged on top in a power struggle at the last congress in 2016 and has spearheaded a "blazing furnace" crackdown on corruption in the last five years, was granted an exception to party rules that say people over the age of 65 should retire, cementing his position as one of the country's strongest and longest-serving leaders for decades.
Trong's re-election as party general secretary came at a five-yearly party congress in Hanoi, where 1,600 party delegates from across Vietnam are concluding eight days of meetings, mostly behind closed doors, to pick a new leadership team, aiming to bolster Vietnam's ongoing economic success - and the legitimacy of the party's rule.
After the new outbreak was detected, state media reported that the congress would end on Monday, a day earlier than planned.