|Testing is one of the effective ways for pandemic prevention. Photo: Ministry of Health.|
Basically controlling the pandemic
Over the past five months, Vietnam has experienced the fourth outbreak with the Delta variant that is more contagious than the original virus strain. During this time, there were complicated developments in Hanoi, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, and southern provinces, the number of cases also increased many times higher than previous outbreaks.
To quickly control the pandemic, the Ministry of Health mobilized nearly 30,000 doctors from central and local medical units, millions of soldiers, policemen, and volunteers to support pandemic prevention in hotspots.
The Ministry of Health has directed central hospitals to set up 14 Covid-19 intensive care centers; coordinated with the military medical force to deploy more than 500 mobile medical stations to promptly provide emergency care for infections in the community.
Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said: “The past five months have been a difficult and challenging time for the health sector. We have to perform many tasks simultaneously: fighting the pandemic, limiting the number of cases, treating patients, minimizing the number of deaths; and accelerating vaccination to soon cover the people. Additionally, continue to firmly consolidate pandemic-free areas and maintain the care, examination, and treatment of people.”
The pandemic in many localities has been gradually controlled; the number of cases has decreased significantly. On October 19, the National System of Covid-19 Case Management recorded 3,034 new infections. Compared to the second half of September 2021 (there were days when nearly 12,000 cases were recorded), the number of new cases and deaths tended to decrease markedly. The southern provinces and Hanoi have ended the long social distancing measures.
For example, in Hanoi and HCM City, people’s lives are gradually returning to a new normal. The Hanoi People’s Committee has allowed restaurants and other food and beverage establishments (except businesses that sell alcohol and beer) to offer on-site dining services; offices, factories, and enterprises have returned to normal work.
People in HCM City have been able to travel when necessary, and take-out businesses have also become busier. In particular, on October 20, more than 230 students in Thanh An island commune, Can Gio district returned to school after more than 160 days off due to the pandemic.
Not to be subjective
Deputy Minister of Health Do Xuan Tuyen said that after the fourth outbreak, not only Vietnam but the whole world and experts believed that the Covid-19 pandemic could not be completely controlled in 2021 and 2022. New strains may appear, so pandemic prevention is unpredictable. The number of infections is still likely to increase while Vietnam’s vaccine coverage is at a modest level.
The Ministry of Health recommended that localities should not take the pandemic prevention and control lightly, because the number of new infections was still high. Localities must continuously strengthen the pandemic prevention and control capacity of the local health care system, proactively prepare all plans for pandemic prevention and control according to the principle of the “four on-site”. Because risks of pandemic outbreak are still present in many localities when a huge number of people from Dong Nai, Binh Duong, and HCM City returned to their hometowns.
In recent days, some provinces such as Phu Tho, Thanh Hoa, Nam Dinh, Nghe An, and Ha Nam have cases in the community. In particular, in Phu Tho, Thanh Hoa, and Nam Dinh, there was a new outbreak in the community with unknown source of infection.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tran Dac Phu, senior advisor at the Center for Emergency Response to Public Health Events (Ministry of Health), said that if returnees did not declare their health truthfully, it would be difficult for the authorities to classify them for isolation, minimizing the risk of disease spread.
During centralized isolation, risks of cross-contamination still occur. Therefore, concentrated isolation areas need to strictly control cross-infection, strictly adhere the principle of isolation between families, and comply with the 5K message.
According to the guidance on classification of pandemic levels in Decision 4800 of the Ministry of Health, as of the evening of October 19, HCM City was at level two, down one level compared to the previous week. However, according to the leader of the HCM City Department of Health, the level assessment is only temporary. Medical facilities must always be in a state of readiness to find and treat Covid-19 cases.
From April 27 to October 23, the whole country recorded 884,895 infections, of which 804,664 people have recovered, while 21,620 patients died. The localities with a high cumulative number of infections during this outbreak are HCM City (421,928 cases), Binh Duong (221,679 cases), Dong Nai (61,216 cases); Long An (33,956 cases); and Tien Giang (15,049 cases). More than 20 provinces and cities across the country have had to implement social distancing for a long time.
According to Resolution 128/NQ-CP of the Government promulgating the provisional regulation “safely adapting, flexibly and effectively controlling the Covid-19 pandemic”, there are four pandemic levels, including: level one (low-risk – new normal) corresponds to green; level two (moderate risk) corresponds to yellow; level three (high risk) corresponds to orange; and level four (very high risk) corresponds to red. As of October 21, 63 provinces and cities have completed assessment of the pandemic level.