|COVID patients at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in HCM City. – VNA/VNS Photo
HCM CITY — The Ministry of Health has called on the public to remain vigilant against COVID-19 amid the appearance of new Omicron sub-variants that have caused a recent spike in severe cases around the country.
“A lack of awareness, insufficient public health measures and low coverage of booster shots could lead to a possible outbreak,” it warned in a statement.
A combination of public health measures, behavioural changes and vaccination is needed to cope with the pandemic, it said.
It exhorted hospitals and medical facilities across the country to be vigilant to prevent a fresh outbreak following the recent surge in the number of cases, including severe cases requiring hospitalisation.
They need to assess their human resources, medical equipment and other supplies to be ready to admit patients for treatment, especially severe and critical cases, it said.
It is vital to detect cases for isolation and treatment in a timely manner to limit the spread and to improve surveillance to promptly forecast the pandemic situation, especially to closely monitor the appearance of new variants.
According to the World Health Organization, the world is still in a pandemic phase and new variants are likely to emerge in the near future as this virus does not yet have a seasonality or act predictably.
Epidemiologists have warned COVID remains a major threat to public health, saying immunity wanes over time and the next stage of pandemic remains highly uncertain.
Vaccines are still a key measure in pandemic prevention, especially in preventing severity and deaths, they said.
It is important to speed up vaccination, including booster shots for people aged 12 and older (especially health workers, elderly people and others at highest risk) and two doses for children aged five to 12, they said.
The country has seen a hike in new cases with an average of 2,500 per day in the past week.
Most people on ventilators are in high-risk groups such as older people, people with underlying conditions and those who have not been fully vaccinated.
Epidemiologists attributed the hike to the appearance of new sub-variants of the highly transmissible Omicron strain, which could evade the immunity afforded by either vaccination or previous infection.
The country has recently detected sub-variants such as BA.4, BA.5 and BA.2.74, of which BA.5 is now the dominant circulating variant.
More than 1.145 million patients are being treated at hospitals and healthcare centres across the country, including 144 severe cases requiring respiratory assistance.
Việt Nam has had more than 11.42 million cases, including more than 43,000 deaths, since the beginning of the outbreak in early 2020.
More than 82 per cent of the population of 95 million has been fully immunised while around 64 per cent has received the third dose.
More than 610.4 million cases and 6.5 million deaths have been recorded around the world. — VNS