Dr Kidong Park, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Việt Nam. Photo courtesy of WHO
Dr Kidong Park, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Việt Nam speaks with Việt Nam News about the efforts made by Vietnamese Government in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and recommendations for the country in the future.
Could you tell us your forecast on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?
We do not know at this point, as we are still in early stages of the outbreak. We cannot make predictions, but we can say that the course of the pandemic will be determined by the actions that countries, including Việt Nam, take.
From the very start, WHO has been calling on all countries to take serious, effective, all-of-government action to fight this new coronavirus, including by scaling up emergency response mechanisms. Describing the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic provides a stark reminder for implementing now needed actions.
How do you evaluate the efforts of Vietnamese Government in the fight against the pandemic, especially when there is a wave of overseas Vietnamese returning to the country, posing a risk of spreading the virus?
Since the confirmation of the 17th person who has acquired COVID-19, health authorities have implemented serious public health measures to stop the spread of the virus, including the tracing of all possible contacts.
Simultaneous with these surveillance activities, laboratory testing capacity continued to be strengthened to ensure early COVID-19 virus detection, and infection prevention control and case management capacity at all levels enhanced. Communicating risks have also been timely and transparent. The Government of Việt Nam has always been proactive and prepared for the necessary actions based on possible scenarios that can occur.
Việt Nam is facing a high risk as the number of infected cases has been increasing. What are your recommendations for Việt Nam to deal with this?
Simultaneous with the continued efforts to control the further spread of the virus, the Government also needs to continue exerting efforts on the next possible scenario, that is, when the virus spreads widely.
In the event of wider transmission, resources should be focused on monitoring the spread and characteristics of the virus, identifying and managing severe cases, preventing onward transmission of the virus, alleviating strains on health-care services, informing the public, and reducing overall social and economic impact. WHO has developed guidelines for countries to prepare for large-scale community transmission of COVID-19, which has been translated to Vietnamese. We stand ready to provide support to the Ministry of Health in implementing activities in line with this guidance. — VNS