Ministry of Health warns against downgrading COVID-19 status due to risk of new variants

March 28, 2023 - 08:17
WHO is likely downgrading COVID-19 from a public health emergency of international concern, which is the highest level of alert, to be on the same level of risk as the flu.

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health has stated that while the COVID-19 situation is currently under control within the country, the risk of new, more dangerous variants emerging is too high to downgrade the status of the virus yet.

The representative from the ministry made this assertion when responding to questions regarding reports of the World Health Organization's (WHO) plans to downgrade COVID-19 from a public health emergency of international concern, which is the highest level of alert, to the same level of risk as the flu.

Việt Nam has recorded over 11.5 million cases of coronavirus infections and 43,100 deaths, representing about 0.37 per cent of the total caseload.

Việt Nam has not recorded any deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the year and many days pass without any new infections. The outbreak situation trending down both in numbers and geographical locations.

The ministry, however, pointed out that there are still new cases of COVID-19 scattered across the country and that there could appear virus variants that can spread faster or evade vaccines' immunity, leading to a spike in the number of infections, severe cases or deaths, and elevate the risk of an outbreak.

The Ministry of Health has developed a plan to ensure medical work if the COVID-19 pandemic has a more dangerous new variant, a strong outbreak on a large scale, exceeding the capacity of the health system that is ready to be deployed when needed.

The country will continue with the Government's Resolution No 38, issued on March 17, 2022, on the COVID-19 prevention and control programme, in the spirit of 'risk management' and 'ensuring the harmony between pandemic prevention and control efforts and socio-economic recovery.'

To deal with COVID-19, the health ministry will continue to maintain close surveillance of the situation of domestic and international infectious diseases; strengthen monitoring of diseases right at border gates, in the community, and at medical examination and treatment establishments.

There will also be an increase in the sampling of suspected cases for testing and gene sequencing to detect diseases early, especially when new virulent variants arrive.

The health ministry will continue to encourage the vaccination against COVID-19, especially for high-risk groups, children aged 5 to under 12 years old, especially in big provinces and cities and important areas or tourist destinations with a high number of international visitors.

Medical facilities and medicines supplies will be ensured in case of a COVID-19 spike.

The health ministry also stresses its coordination with the WHO and US CDC and other international experts and organisations in the assessment of COVID-19 levels.

COVID-19 prevention and control measures can be adjusted when the pandemic situation becomes predictable and stable, the health ministry said.

Việt Nam has lifted all COVID-19 restrictions, both for people in the country and for international arrivals. — VNS