Trần Đắc Phu, former head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine. — Photo moh.gov.vn
Trần Đắc Phu, former head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine and senior expert of the Việt Nam Public Health Emergency Operation Centre spoke to Dân Trí online newspaper about Hà Nội's pandemic prevention and control to start economic recovery.
What do you think about the strategy and measures to combat COVID-19 that Hà Nội has taken during the four waves of the pandemic?
I think Hà Nội's pandemic prevention measures during the four periods of social distancing were correct and up to now, the city has succeeded in controlling the disease.
It is thanks to the decisive efforts of the city's Party Committee, People's Committee, agencies, localities and other factors.
Specifically, the city has a very effective system to track and trace infections and outbreaks; the effective operation of the grassroots health workers, community-based COVID-19 prevention teams, checkpoints and especially the awareness and unity of local residents towards the city's pandemic prevention and control measures.
In addition to the city-wide social distancing decision, the city's authorities also issued Dispatch No 14 on July 12 requesting closure of all non-essential service and businesses.
This shows the city took measures knowing the pandemic would be very unpredictable and complicated.
Hà Nội has also issued specific directives to combat the pandemic effectively and successfully organised a vaccination campaign for the entire population.
The city has many favourable factors and many decisions were considered to be timely and drastic, but still necessitated the implementation of social distancing for 60 days. Why was this?
At the time that Hà Nội decided to implement city-wide social distancing, community cases appeared in many districts and towns.
From the healthcare professionals' perspectives, social distancing must be applied to control the pandemic. Therefore, the period of social distancing was reasonable.
Before social distancing, there were many community cases in all districts, but now there are only very few cases. Especially, the number of outbreaks has been reduced to only a few districts in risky areas.
Hà Nội is gradually easing pandemic prevention and control measures to start economic recovery. What challenges and risks do you think the city will face?
The pandemic risk is higher in localities with dense population, traffic and exchange with other regions.
In fact, if the pandemic appears in other provinces and cities, it means COVID-19 will also appear in Hà Nội.
The Ministry of Health is developing guidelines for "Safe and flexible adaptation and effective control of the COVID-19 pandemic". So in the near future, Hà Nội will not be able to maintain 22 checkpoints at the city's major gateways to control people entering the city.
The city will face more risks when the checkpoints are removed.
So more effective pandemic control measures are needed.
Hà Nội must strengthen control and adapt to COVID-19 safely, flexibly and effectively.
What measures does Hà Nội need to take to prevent a resurgence of the pandemic as restrictions are eased?
I think the city needs to implement a lot of synchronous measures to control the disease.
The city needs to maintain testing in areas at risk and quickly track related cases when F0 cases are reported in the community.
It is necessary to impose lockdowns in places where the outbreak appears.
The city also needs to quickly implement safe business and production plans for each industry, field and location in combination with the 5K message.
In particular, Hà Nội needs to apply information technology to serve pandemic prevention and control more effectively.
Vaccination progress needs to be maintained to soon achieve herd immunity. It also needs to consider vaccinations for others who return to work and study in Hà Nội when the city opens to a new normal.
Another factor that will also help Hà Nội control the pandemic is people's coordination with the city's pandemic prevention regulations. — VNS