Vietnam will accelerate its vaccine rollout in COVID-19 hotspot Ho Chi Minh City and build more field hospitals, authorities said on Thursday, as it battles a worsening wave of infections driven by the virulent Delta variant.
After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam has been facing record daily increases in infections since late April.
The health ministry said in a statement it will simplify procedures in order to speed up vaccinations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's business hub and largest population center. It is aiming to administer at least one shot to 70% of the city's 9 million residents over the next month.
The city currently administers between 70,000 and 80,000 coronavirus vaccine doses per day.
"It must be done quickly, using up all the vaccines as they arrive," Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said on Thursday during a meeting with municipal authorities.
Vaccination centers will remain open late in the evening and more medical staff will be deployed to the city, the ministry said. Procedures before and after the shots will be shortened.
Vietnam, with a population of 98 million, has so far administered over 5.3 million vaccine doses, but fewer than 500,000 people have been fully vaccinated.
It reported 7,594 new infections on Thursday, raising its overall caseload to 128,413, with at least 630 deaths. More than 40% of those cases were recorded over the past week.
The outbreak has forced around one third of Vietnam's cities and provinces to impose strict restrictions on movement, including in the capital Hanoi and the central tourist hub Danang.
Rising infection numbers have also forced labour-intensive businesses, including Nike and Adidas suppliers, in Ho Chi Minh City and neighbouring industrial provinces to halt production.
Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday launched a new field hospital, the health ministry said, adding to more than a dozen set up recently to provide tens of thousands of beds for sick patients.
"The city is switching its focus to treatment to limit the number of deaths," a separate statement posted on the website of the central government said on Thursday.
Vietnam has previously concentrated most its resources on contact tracing and quarantining. (Editing by Joe Bavier)