|Trần Đắc Phu
At a recent online conference with provinces and cities to implement the dispatch of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat on the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính came to the conclusion that new and stronger measures should be conducted in the new developments of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trần Đắc Phu, a senior advisor at the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre talks to the Government Portal about the issue.
Facing the increasingly complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic with the emergence of dangerous new strains, the Prime Minister has asked for stronger new solutions. What are your views on this?
The Prime Minister firstly noted that we need to avoid all acts of bureaucratic. This is the point of view of the Party, the State and any public employee. The second thing the Prime Minister emphasised is drastic, strong and effective measures while listening to the people and trying to support them.
Regarding the issue of access to treatment, if we do not do a good job in communicating with the people and the patients, they will not receive timely treatment and death is a possibility. If we do not organise early detection, do not immediately localise, it will lead to an outbreak, affecting people's health. This will also affect production and then the economy as a whole.
In the new situation of the pandemic, we need stronger policies. We’ve seen the complicated situation in HCM City and other southern provinces and cities.
In addition to fighting the pandemic, taking care of and protecting the health of the people, the Government also has to deal with social security and economic development issues. If we are not conducting strict and quick solutions, huge losses in terms of people’s health are unavoidable.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in our country, the Government has been working very hard. The situation is now getting increasingly complicated, therefore, the Government has also issued appropriate and strong policies that are suitable.
In the conclusion of the Prime Minister at the conference, he said the leaders directing the fight against COVID-19 must be focused, unified and intensive at the national level. How can that be achieved?
There are issues that are summarised and guided in a very scientific and also basic way, and such directions need to be conducted in a synchronised manner at the national level. We can’t have this locality doing this and another locality doing that, which has already happened in the past as we were applying Directive 16. This leads to congestion in goods transportation, unsuccessful tracing of suspected cases, not strict enough social distancing, and so on.
Therefore, specific guidelines are needed, and national-level policies are needed.
For the anti-pandemic work to be highly effective, we also need to focus on removing difficulties and limitations in this work, especially in removing policy difficulties.
Recently, the Government focused a lot on removing policy challenges: policies on travel, shopping, policies on social security and people. On that basis, we can apply the policies flexibly depending on each region and each locality. For example, in high-risk areas, testing campaigns and solutions also need to be flexible and changeable. The issue of tracing must also be different, the issue of essential food supplies also needs to be more flexible.
On the basis of the lessons of experience of localities, the ministries and units can summarise and draw specific guidelines and regulations for other localities to learn. This not only ensures the effectiveness of anti-pandemic work, but also ensures that the policies are not impractical.
The Prime Minister assigned the Ministry of Health to implement many solutions in the new developments of the pandemic, especially in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and distribution and organisation of vaccinations. These include solutions to tackle overcrowding at medical facilities and classifying F0s. What does this mean in the current situation?
In the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need appropriate solutions and strategies in different times and situations. However, we need to focus on an important goal, how to reduce the infections rate and minimise the number of deaths.
Recently, the development of the pandemic has been rather complicated, not only in Việt Nam but also around the world, due to the rapid spread of new strains. Therefore, if we do not implement home quarantine, it will lead to overloading the quarantine system. If quarantine is not carried out according to the instructions, cross-contamination will occur.
At present, when the number of infected people increases day by day, we should do home quarantine for F1, even for F0 in certain circumstances.
In localities where the pandemic is still at a sporadic level, it is possible to conduct extensive testing, tracing, localising and stamping out the pandemic. But if the pandemic is at larger scale, then we must prioritise reducing deaths from infections. This is extremely important, because our resources cannot be spread evenly.
Another solution we need to focus on is classifying patients. Mild cases are taken to a treatment area for mild patients. For severe cases, we send them to hospitals. If we do not act quickly, we will not have enough resources to respond, and we will not be able to deal with the consequences.
How effective do you think these solutions are?
Right now, besides strictly implementing the 5K message, we need to promote the strategy of mass vaccinations for the entire population. Localities need to seriously follow the direction of the Prime Minister. If a locality has not yet established it, it must immediately establish a community COVID team and intensify the activities of the community COVID team to "go to every alley, knock from door to door", reminding and urging people to comply with social distance requirements. This is very important.
In each period, the Government should make adjustments and changes to have appropriate and flexible policies. In the past, the Government has given very drastic and appropriate direction according to the actual situation to quickly respond to the development of the pandemic in the new situation. With such drastic directions and appropriate policies, with the participation of the whole political system, and the cooperation of the whole community for the most effective pandemic prevention and control, we will definitely win. — VNS