Việt Nam should be prepared for what comes next: Deputy PM

March 20, 2020 - 20:18

Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam on Firday warned about the possibilities of COVID-19 spreading from hundreds of thousands of people who have entered Viet Nam since earlier this month, and requested relevant bodies and the public to stay alert.

Screening area for COVID-19 at Thanh Nhàn Hospital in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam on Friday warned about the risks of COVID-19 spreading from hundreds of thousands of people who have entered Việt Nam since earlier this month, including returning Vietnamese nationals, and requested relevant bodies and the public to stay alert and carry out strict quarantine protocols.

Chairing a meeting of the National Steering Committee for the prevention of acute respiratory infections caused by the new strain of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Hà Nội Friday morning, Đam said it was essential that the committee correctly assessed the seriousness of the epidemic in the country at this point of time.

"It’s important for Việt Nam to continue enforcing aggressive measures to fight the virus," he said.

“Grassroots healthcare units need to be aware of the situation in their areas, and the military needs to be updated of cases that need to be quarantined and digitalise this information,” Dam added.

He also asked telecommunication providers to work on providing phone numbers to the social insurance body so communication can be ensured for those who need to contact health departments.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Thành Long said that besides quarantining all Vietnamese citizens and foreigners who enter Việt Nam, the country must also urgently conduct screenings and early detection for suspected cases for timely isolation and treatment.

He said the ministry was ready to buy container units and turn them into mobile testing facilities. 

The Steering Committee has assigned the Ministry of Health and military medical forces to urgently set up plans to purchase medical supplies, equipment and conduct training to deploy mobile laboratories as soon as possible. All resources should be mobilised to conduct different testing methods to basically screen the current risk of infection.

On the same day, the health ministry said that it had set up a specialised medical consultation group for the treatment of severe COVID-19 cases in Việt Nam.

The group comprises 30 experts from intensive care, emergency, infectious diseases, microbiology, nutrition and pharmaceutical departments from leading hospitals including the Hà Nội-based Bạch Mai Hospital, the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases and Chợ Rẫy Hospital in HCM City.

The group will hold direct or online consultations per request of hospitals in charge of severe cases, and analyse the progress of those cases to give recommendations and suitable treatment for each patient.

Strict quarantine procedures

Regarding quarantine measures, the Steering Committee said it was necessary to continue assigning the army to preside over the role. All Vietnamese who return home must be put under quarantine in accordance with regulations.

At the same time, localities should prepare hotels and accommodation facilities to organise charged quarantine for foreigners holding diplomatic and official passports, and experts working on important projects in Viet Nam.

The Ministry of Education and Training and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs will direct universities and colleges to hand over student dormitories to the military if required.

The steering committee asked localities to strictly follow quarantine requirements set by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Upon landing at an airport, flight attendants must guide passengers on entry to complete the electronic medical declaration on the aircraft. Passengers’ temperatures must be taken, and Vietnamese and foreign passengers are divided before quarantine. Aircraft must be cleaned and disinfected according to regulations. In case of congestion at airports, medical quarantine must be applied.

ASEAN nationals and passengers from Malaysia will be given priority for sample testing.

In cases where passengers having visa exemptions or visa exemption certificates upon entry, they must also obtain a certificate proving they have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 virus issued by the competent authority in the host country and accepted by Việt Nam.

At the same time, ministries and People's Committees of provinces and cities are responsible for organising quarantine with people coming from ASEAN, Europe, the US, China, S Korea and Iran.

According to the Steering Committee's report, as of 4pm Friday, 87 cases of COVID-19 had been recorded in Việt Nam, of whom 17 had been discharged.

Việt Nam has also carried out a total of 15,009 tests. The total number of people in close contact from epidemic centres being monitored stood at 38,081. Among them, 7,316 are in quarantine in hospital, 2,241 are in other facilities and 28,524 people are self-isolating at home. — VNS