Vietnam would face challenges in announcing COVID-19-free state: Ministry hinh anh 1Currently, Vietnam takes flexible pandemic prevention and control measures following pandemic developments (Photo: VNA) 
Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam is likely to face great challenges if it announces the state is COVID-19-free because the people will be less vigilant to the pandemic in the face of more dangerous variants of SARS-CoV-2, according to Prof. Phan Trong Lan, Director of the Health Ministry's Department of Preventive Medicine.

Prof. Lan was responding to some lawmakers’ opinions asking the Government to announce an end to the COVID-19 and switch to a new period of pandemic control with new regulations replacing old ones.

The expert underlined that if Vietnam announces the COVID-19 pandemic is over, there will be two major challenges.

First, if a new, more dangerous variant of SARS-CoV-2 that reduces vaccine efficiency or immunity emerges, Vietnam could see an increased number of severe cases or deaths. There would be a risk of a new pandemic outbreak on a large scale, going beyond the capacity of the health system.

Lan explained that if the end of the epidemic is announced, specific mechanisms and policies for pandemic prevention and control will finish.

Secondly, engagement of the administrations at all levels in prevention and control activities will ease. Thus, people may show negligence, and the reactivation of administrative and social measures when necessary would be delayed, he said.

According to Prof. Lan, COVID-19 pandemic remains complex with unpredictable developments. Herd immunity has decreased over time, while the SARS-CoV-2 is constantly mutating with new variants and sub-variants that are stronger and spread faster.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Emergency Committee affirmed that the world is still in COVID-19 pandemic situation during its meeting on October 13, he stressed.

Vietnam is a responsible member of the WHO, Lan said, adding that the country’s pandemic prevention and control activities have contributed to the common efforts of the international community in responding to the pandemic.

Vietnam would face challenges in announcing COVID-19-free state: Ministry hinh anh 2Prof. Phan Trong Lan, Director of the Department of Preventive Medicine (Photo: VNA)
He said that in the coming time, the Ministry of Health will continue to coordinate closely with the WHO and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as experts and scientists to keep a close watch on the pandemic to give accurate evaluations.

If COVID-19 pandemic develops stably, predictably and can be contained, prevention and control measures will be promptly adjusted by the Ministry of Health in order to proactively respond to the pandemic and protect the health of the community at the same time, he said.

The ministry will update guidance on vaccination against COVID-19 on children, along with guidelines in labour safety and hygiene for medical workers. The anti-pandemic measures for the public will be adjusted from 5K to 2K (face mask and disinfection).

Prof. Lan emphasised that currently, COVID-19 prevention and control measures have been flexible in line with pandemic developments. When it re-emerges in a certain locality, strict response measures will be quickly applied, including 5K measures. In fact, now the pandemic is under control, the country has returned to the new normal, with basic prevention measures in place, creating favourable conditions for people in traveling, working and conducting production and business activities.

As of October 19, the total of 260,919,526 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered./.