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Rising COVID-19 cases in Vietnam remain a concern ahead of SEA Games says PSC comms

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Don't be surprised if Vietnam releases some COVID-19-related updates regarding its hosting of the Southeast Asian Games very soon.

Philippine Sports Commission commissioner Celia Kiram revealed on Friday that there are still concerns about the health situation in the said country with two months left before the start of the event as relayed to her by her fellow commissioner Mon Fernandez.

"Finorward niya sa aming chat group yung number of cases sa Vietnam. Napakataas, more than 200,000 a day," Kiram said over Sports on Air Weekly.

In particular, Vietnam announced back-to-back days of more than 200,000 new cases, including a new record-high 265,163 on Wednesday and a second-worst 218,459 the following day.

Counting the 202,180 cases added on Sunday, Vietnam has actually posted spikes of 200,000 COVID-19 cases in three of the last five days.

Fernandez, also the Philippine team's chef de mission, confirmed later in the day in an interview with Judith Caringal over Radyo Pilipinas' PSC Hour that he will not attend the scheduled CDM meeting and venue inspection in Hanoi next week due to the current COVID-19 situation there.

"I was talking to Cong. Bambol [Tolentino] last Wednesday. In-advise nya ako, 'Pupunta ka pa ba? Two hundred sixty thousand na ang [bagong] COVID positive cases sa Vietnam ngayon.' Natakot naman ako. Sabi ko, 'Pwede ba, Cong., sina Tom Carrasco, Jarryd Bello, at saka DCDM (deputy chef de mission) Carl Sambrano na lang ang pumunta?' Sabi niya, 'Oo. Sila na lang na mga bata,'" Fernandez bared his conversation with the concurrent Philippine Olympic Committee president that led to his decision to stay home.

Fernandez added, "Mahirap na matsambahan ang senior citizen eh."

If Kiram is to be asked, however, she would rather prefer the SEA Games, which is supposed to be held last year but was moved to May 12-23 this year due to COVID-19 concerns, to finally push through amid the current spike in Vietnam.

"Gusto kong matuloy kasi sayang yung preparasyon ng mga NSAs sa kanilang mga atleta," Kiram added.

For Fernandez, on the other hand, he hopes that Vietnam would control the COVID-19 situation there by May 1 if it intends to continue on with the SEA Games.

"We're hoping that by May 1, medyo ma-control na talaga nila ito kagaya nung nagawa natin," the PBA legend added.

At least for the time being, the Philippines has successfully mitigated its recent COVID-19 surge mainly caused by the omicron variant.

From a record-high 38,867 new cases on Jan. 15, only 448 newly infected patients were tallied on Tuesday, while 592 new cases were reported on Thursday.

According to OCTA Research fellow Guido David, the Philippines is now at very low risk for COVID-19, while Vietnam is currently experiencing a severe outbreak, a tough situation the country is in considering that it was a model country in terms of controlling COVID-19 early into the pandemic.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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