|Health workers conduct testing for residents of a neighbourhood on Lê Đại Hành Street, Hai Bà Trưng District, Hà Nội. The capital city is currently placed under Directive 16 at least until August 23, pending renewal, in bid to curb COVID-19 spread. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Đạt|
HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính stressed the importance of accelerating testing and ‘filtering’ all COVID-19 cases out of the community during lockdown period in a bid to soon lift restrictions and restore economic activities.
He made the order on Sunday via a videoconference with cabinet members and leaders of 36 provinces and cities that are currently placed under lockdown in line with Government’s Directive 16, including major urban centres like Hà Nội, HCM City, and Đà Nẵng.
Chính commended localities who have introduced additional measures “higher than Directive 16” earlier than required to quickly head off a surge of infections, depending on their specific situation.
With the efforts of all stakeholders, the lockdown for the last month has led to some initial positive results that lay the foundation for better outcomes in the future, but overall, the stated objectives have not been accomplished, the Government leader said.
PM Chính noted that prevention and control measures are unprecedented so it’s better to be learning as we go.
He required localities to set out a clear plan, a set of objectives, and measures to achieve that roadmap.
With a current shortage of vaccines and lack of specific treatment medicines for COVID-19, we have to pursuit lockdown and social distancing measures to not let outbreaks continue for a long time, allowing attention to be focused on economic development, to create the resources for long-term prevention and control efforts and ensure people’s livelihoods, avoid economic and health crises, PM Chính said, as Việt Nam does not have abundant resources and a strong economy like developed nations
According to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, after 26 days of Directive 16 in the 19 cities and provinces of the southern region, 216,719 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded as new cases found through screening in the community are trending down.
Health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long said during the social distancing period, there have been localities that have not enforced the rules seriously enough, demanding HCM City and southern region pursue restrictions at the highest level to reduce new cases and improve admission of COVID-19 patients to bring down the death rate.
While praising the efforts of localities with severe outbreaks like HCM City, Bình Dương, and Đồng Nai, PM Chính noted the situation remains complicated, and the highest priority, for now, is the containment of outbreaks, and even in ‘safe zones’, economic and production activities must be mindful of health measures.
He asked localities to strictly enforce lockdown measures in the spirit of ‘stay where you are’ to avoid transmission, conduct testing and isolation of COVID-19 cases, and make use of the ‘golden window’ that is the lockdown period to contain the virus.
The PM wants health authorities to issue instructions for businesses and the public to conduct self-testing.
Localities, based on their situation and conditions, could allow the quarantine of COVID-19 cases and their contacts at home but must monitor these cases to avoid spreading the virus to their relatives and to the community. Localities with few cases should still go with centralised quarantine strategy.
With regards to treatment, PM Chính requested localities prepare adequate human resources, medical supplies, and logistics to treat patients and minimise deaths and study and pilot treatment of COVID-19 patients at home in a way that ensures safety and effectiveness.
The Ministry of Health must continue to mobilise, train and allocate more health workers to hotspots and improve the capacity of the district health level.
Hospitals must immediately eliminate unnecessary administrative procedures and prioritise saving lives before serious cases could develop, in the spirit of "admission and first aid first, procedures later”.
In terms of vaccinations, PM Chính asked for faster administration of COVID-19 vaccines for priority groups, especially people over 50, consider setting up separate vaccination sites for those in that age group, and buy vaccines approved for use in children.
He stressed that the State provides vaccines for all people free of charge. The Government permits businesses and local governments to look for vaccine supplies, but the health ministry would be in charge of quality controls, licensing storage, and free administration for all people.
The Government leader reiterated the demand to not let have anyone go without food, essential goods, and medical attention. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs should coordinate to see how to distribute social welfare packages directly to people in need.
Local political organisations, as well as the police and military units, must listen to the people’s feedback and requests and aspirations to
quickly handle any arising situations as well as ensuring security and order in the society.
PM Chính also asked localities and ministries to coordinate and remove all barriers that disrupt trade, ensure smooth flow of goods – especially essential goods for people and raw materials for production for experts, listen to feedback from businesses to quickly remedy their measures and restrictions, and have policies in place for businesses to support the implementation of the three on-site model (working, eating, resting at the factory/workplace).
He urged localities to prepare scenarios in cases more restrictive measures might be needed to contain outbreaks. — VNS