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HANOI (Reuters) - Authorities in Vietnam's biggest city are urging the government to recognise positive rapid tests for COVID-19 to present a clearer picture of its outbreak, state media reported on Monday, a move that could increase the city's case total by 40%.
Ho Chi Minh City, home to about 9 million people, has borne the brunt of Vietnam's coronavirus crisis, accounting for 80% of its more than 18,500 COVID-19 deaths and half of its 756,000 cases.
Positive rapid tests of 150,000 people in the city since Aug. 20 have not been included in the overall tally, Tuoi Tre newspaper said, citing the deputy head of the city's health department, Nguyen Huu Hung.
Like many countries, Vietnam only counts positive swab-based Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests.
The southern economic hub has recorded 372,180 infections overall. If 150,000 more cases were confirmed to be positive, it would reduce the city's death rate from just over 3.8% to 2.75%.
The health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Tuoi Tre cited an unnamed official at the city's health department as saying the 150,000 individuals were being treated, but had not undertaken swab tests due to insufficient resources.
Ho Chi Minh City is set to ease coronavirus curbs and allow the resumption of some businesses from Friday to try to revive economic activity after long periods of restrictions.
The move is part of a shift away from its policy of targeting zero-COVID-19 cases, which was pursued aggressively prior to April this year, when it was hit by a devastating wave of infections fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant.
(Editing by Martin Petty)