MOH urges strengthened pandemic monitoring at border gates ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations

January 13, 2023 - 05:17
People coming from outbreak areas or places where there are new variants should be closely monitored. Abnormal cases must be closely monitored.


People who come from outbreak areas and the origin of new variants should be closely monitored. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — Border gates are instructed to strengthen pandemic monitoring to identify suspected cases of COVID-19 and to respond quickly against an outbreak.

People coming from outbreak areas or places where there are new variants should be closely monitored. Abnormal cases must be closely monitored.

This information was issued in an urgent document from the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday concerning pandemic prevention during the 2023 Lunar New Year festivities and holidays.

Medical facilities must coordinate with the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, the Pasteur Institute and hospitals to identify new COVID variants for sampling and identification.

Localities should also promote the administration of COVID vaccines according to the MOH's guidelines following the Government's vaccine plan. People considered at high risk of suffering COVID complications, such as the elderly and people with preexisting medical conditions or immune deficiency, must pay particular attention.

Authorities should also update messages and raise awareness of pandemic prevention at border gates, medical facilities, and tourist accommodations, as well as in public, to raise awareness.

The MOH also notes a plan for managing and treating COVID patients. Medicines, equipment and chemicals for pandemic prevention should be ready for all possible scenarios, and localities must arrange quarantine areas for those entering the country with COVID.

A plan for preventing infectious diseases in 2023 should also be built with approval from local People's Committees. Inspection of pandemic prevention should also be raised.

The MOH requested the Hygiene and Epidemiology and Pasteur institutes to closely monitor the pandemic situation in their areas and adjust plans and measures for pandemic prevention and control.

Localities must conduct inspections and collect test samples of high-risk cases to sequence genes and identify new strains and variants of SARS-CoV-2, should they emerge.

HCM City remains on alert

The HCM City health sector has required all hospitals, medical centres and facilities to tighten COVID prevention measures during the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday given the rapid spread of the latest Omicron subvariant in other countries.

Though no subvariant XBB.1.5 cases have been found in Việt Nam yet, the risk is extremely high as international travel is expected to surge during the country’s biggest and most important holiday, according to the Health Department.

It is vital to detect suspected cases at the city’s airport and seaports for isolation and treatment in a timely manner to limit the spread, according to the department.

Tân Sơn Nhất airport will need to allocate enough staff to be on duty around the clock during the holiday. 

All passengers arriving at the airport will be monitored with body temperature checks 24/7. Anyone with suspected symptoms will need to get a rapid test for COVID.

In case of a positive test result, the patient will be transferred to the HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases for RT-PCR testing and gene sequencing. 

Seaports will also need to enhance prevention measures around the clock. Any crew members with suspected symptoms will have a rapid test.

The city will continue to provide booster shots for all people, especially medical workers, the elderly and others at highest risk, from now to the end February, including during the Lunar New Year holiday.

People can get their booster shots at hospitals and health centres across the city.

At least two fixed vaccination sites will be set up at district hospitals and health centres in each district during the holiday (from January 20 to 26).

The Health Department also plans to reactivate field hospital No. 13 within 24 hours in case of a continued hike in cases.

Hospitals and clinics are asked to review human resources, medical equipment and supplies to be ready to receive patients for treatment, especially severe and critical cases.

In addition, the health sector is ready to deploy 10,000 beds, including 1,000 resuscitation beds, for COVID patients. 

The health sector has assigned the HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases to treat severe and critical patients.

The HCM City Centre for Disease Control (HCDC) will continue to enhance surveillance to promptly forecast the pandemic situation in the city.

The southern economic hub was the pandemic hotspot during the largest outbreak in late 2021. It has had nearly 630,000 infections to date, including more than 20,000 deaths. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called XBB.1.5 “the most transmissible” variant to date. It has become a globally dominant variant, health experts have said.

Fortunately, current vaccines are still very effective in protecting people from hospitalisation and death, health experts said. 

Today, all social and economic activities have become normal as in the pre-pandemic period in Việt Nam. — VNS