Source: Socialist Republic of Vietnam
53 days without community COVID-19 transmission
After 99 days without new local transmission of COVID-19, on July 24, Da Nang became the country’s hotbed for a new wave of infections after the central city discovered a new infection case in the community without a clear source. Vietnam officially entered the second phase of the COVID-19 fight with a great amount of efforts poured into controlling the situation.
Under the direction of the Party, the Government and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, the health sector actively coordinated with relevant ministries, agencies and localities to continue the early implementation of strong and effective epidemic prevention and control measures under the strategy of “preventing – detecting – isolating – thoroughly zoning – drastically suppressing and providing treatment”, combined with the four “on the spot” principles that have proven their effectiveness in preventing and controlling both epidemics and natural disasters.
While the whole country was urgently implementing the Government’s dual goal policy of “both effectively preventing the COVID-19 epidemic and promoting socio-economic development”, the health sector carried out unprecedented actions.
The Ministry of Health established an anti-epidemic command in Da Nang and mobilised the synergy of the entire sector with over 1,000 health workers joining in. Of this, 300 physicians , leading experts in epidemic prevention, control and treatment were dispatched to support and coordinate with Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue in fighting the second wave of COVID-19.
Health workers worked day and night to control the epidemic in the Da Nang epicentre.
The battle to urgently investigate epidemiology, tracing, speeding up tests on a large scale, and “launching” the most elite medical staff at the front line of treatment in Da Nang helped the city quickly overcome the crisis. Thanks to these, the outbreak in the tourist destination was completely wiped out in less than 40 days, saving the lives of many critically-ill patients.
After more than a month during the outbreak with the number of infections in the community up to 389 cases, Da Nang had controlled the situation at the end of August. Since then, COVID-19 has disappeared from the hot spot.
The last locally-transmitted case discovered in the second wave was in the northern province of Hai Duong (known as Patient no. 1,045, 72 years old) on September 2. Hai Duong implemented an urgent track and trace initiative as the case had fever 15 days earlier and had a rather complicated travel history for medical examination. But fortunately, since then, Hai Duong has not detected any new cases that had been infected by the patient.
Until now, major localities have successfully controlled the pandemic. Hanoi has passed nearly 70 days, Ho Chi Minh City around 85 days and Da Nang nearly two months without any new infections in the community.
Vietnam successfully protected its results in COVID-19 prevention and control during the resurgence of the pandemic as 53 days have passed without a new SARS-CoV-2 positive case in the community. Once again, Vietnam has been praised by the international community for its efforts in containing a pandemic that is still very active around the world and one which has once again exploded in some European countries.
Challenges ahead in winter-spring
Dr. Dang Quang Tan, Director of the Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, said that the winter-spring weather provides favourable conditions for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 to break out again with a rapid spreading rate. Therefore, the most effective preventive measure is the observance of the “5K” measures set by the ministry, with a focus on wearing face masks and practicing hand hygiene among the community.
Vietnam still faces many risks as the epidemic may return. At present, in large urban areas with high population density, the risk of infection remains, while in many localities, there is still neglect from local people regarding the implementation of prevention and control measures, such as not wearing face masks when going out and in crowded gatherings.
The risk of a new outbreak from infections abroad is always permanent, especially as the number of flights repatriating Vietnamese citizens and specialists has increased.
At a recent cabinet meeting on the COVID-19 fight, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc noted that the risk is always thereas many countries have been experiencing a huge spread in the community in recent days.
Therefore, the important spirit the PM emphasised is not being subjective. All agencies, units and localities should have a high responsibility to resolutely prevent the return of the epidemic. He also urged higher vigilance and strong and decisive measures, especially during the coming winter.
Vietnam has been strengthening testing and strict quarantine for entrants to the country.
Facing the risk of an epidemic infestation as many foreign experts entering Vietnam have been found to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has asked localities practice caution in managing immigration cases, strictly implementing quarantine, taking samples for testing and not letting people from outside enter the quarantine areas.
In particular, it is necessary to check and closely inspect negative certificates of SARS-CoV-2 before doing immigration procedures for entrants into Vietnam. Those entering the country are tested three times instead of twice as previously prescribed to ensure safety against the epidemic.
PM Phuc also asked localities, from provincial to communal level, to prepare response scenarios in the event of detecting a new COVID-19 case in the community, including a rapid plan for zoning and tracing when a new infection appears.
People’s Committees of provinces and centrally-run cities, most of all Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, should direct the implementation of mandatory face mask wearing in public places and on public transport.