Vietnam must stay vigilant against pandemic: Acting Health Minister hinh anh 1There is no approved vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19 globally. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) -
Vietnam will face formidable challenges in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic since it could last until the end of next year, Acting Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said on October 13.

At an online conference on COVID-19 prevention with localities nationwide, the acting minister stressed Vietnam must uphold vigilance and sharpen focus on COVID-19 prevention measures since the coronavirus situation could become worse and the prospects of access to vaccine hanging in the balance.

Even when the country has recorded no community transmission of the coronavirus for 41 straight days, the risk of the virus entering the country always remains high, Long said.

“This is an important time for us to prepare and carry out all necessary measures to prevent the outbreak, particularly when winter is approaching, making the COVID-19 outbreak get worse. The virus has returned to many countries, and the number of community transmission cases is increasing. That is the reason why localities should review anti-pandemic scenarios,” he noted.

Long emphasised the five principles in fighting COVID-19, which are preventing infections, detecting infected cases, quarantining suspected and confirmed infection cases, treating COVID-19 patients, and isolating and stamping out outbreaks.

COVID-19 prevention and control scenarios of provinces and cities must include response measures for outbreaks at hospitals, plants and residential areas, he said.

Long described preventing the epidemic from entering Vietnam as the most important task, followed by detecting infections, especially in the context that Vietnam is still receiving foreign experts and repatriating citizens from abroad.

Vietnam must stay vigilant against pandemic: Acting Health Minister hinh anh 2Acting Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long (Photo: VietnamPlus)

He ordered the health departments of localities to join hands with the border guard force to strictly control the number of immigrants, people quarantined at concentrated facilities or home accommodations.

Amidst the sophisticated developments of COVID-19 globally, the Health Ministry urged all people to focus on prevention measures and safe living during the pandemic.

Vietnam must stay vigilant against pandemic: Acting Health Minister hinh anh 3 At the online conference on November 13 (Photo: VietnamPlus)

The acting Health Minister also ordered localities to carry out bidding for medical equipment purchase soon to ensure sufficient facilities for the pandemic fight.

Localities are requested to improve testing capacity, and pay due heed to the tracing work since tracing people in close contact with COVID-19 patients, referred to as F1s, is key to COVID-19 prevention.

The flexible and creative application of a strategy to prevent, detect, isolate, localise and control COVID-19 had played a decisive role in Vietnam’s successful battle against the pandemic, experts have said.

"This has been an important strategy and contributed to the success of disease prevention and control," said Associate Professor Tran Nhu Duong, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemic, adding that the strategy had been consistently applied since the start of the pandemic.

“When a COVID-19 case is detected in the community, the first task to do right away is to track all people who have had contact with the patient and quarantine them.”

“Those who have had close contact with the patient, known as F1s, are people at high risk of being infected and can become a source of infection in the community,” he said.

Tracing F1s as soon as a case is detected is a key part of disease containment because there is a very small window in which to track and quarantine contacts before they become infectious.

The incubation period between contact with the virus and start of symptoms might be just 1-2 days or up to 14 days. Therefore, it was critical to trace and locate contacts as soon as possible before they could potentially infect others, Duong said.

He also said that the identification of suspected cases should be based on epidemiological risk of infection.

Experience during the battle against COVID-19 in Da Nang showed that many patients had travelled to different places, mainly HCM City, and neighbouring Quang Ngai and Quang Nam provinces. Competent agencies collaborated with those localities to track F1s.

“That approach has made tracing speedy and comprehensive. Without collaboration with other COVID-19 response teams, it would take a team a few days or even weeks to complete F1 tracing,” he added./.