Wednesday, September 30 2020

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Be vigilant, as there's no telling when the virus could reoccur: Deputy PM

Update: August, 10/2020 - 08:55
Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam, head of the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, chaired over the Sunday meeting. — VNA/VNS Photo Văn Điệp

HÀ NỘI — The risks of further coronavirus outbreaks remain ever-present and everyone must absolutely stay on guard, Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam said. 

While the recent explosion in locally infected cases recorded in Việt Nam can mainly be traced back to Đà Nẵng, especially the three hospitals in the city, the risks of virus spread in the community remains significant, Đam said, requiring all localities and the public to be cautious. 

He was addressing an emergency meeting for the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control held in Hà Nội on Sunday.

“No one can tell for certain that the coronavirus has been completely eliminated in the community,” he said. 

The vigilant spirit must be held high at all times, or a resurgence of the virus could appear like it did recently after months of relaxed measures with no new locally transmitted cases, Đam continued. 

He added that if the country continues to well implement anti-pandemic measures, which have been tightened in the last two weeks since the discovery of the first case in Đà Nẵng’s outbreak, "we have the confidence that the outbreak will not explode on a wider scale.” 

Not only in the current epicentres of the outbreak like Đà Nẵng or Quảng Nam, all protocols are in all localities – with health workers and public security officers at the forefront – have been restarted and been constantly active, Đam said. 

Recently, the health ministry sent five inspection teams to local level to assess the readiness, he said. 

Assoc. Prof. Trần Đắc Phu, head of Department of Preventive Medicine under the health ministry, said anti-pandemic measures have been carried out aggressively and effectively in Đà Nẵng, which is now under lockdown. 

At this point, it could be said that the outbreak in Đà Nẵng is under control, Phu said. 

Lê Quang Cường, former deputy minister of health, asked that information campaigns be enhanced in the future so that public awareness and community-minded spirit would be raised, and everyone would not let their guards down, maintain proper hygiene to protect themselves, their family, and the community in the new normal. 

Regarding tests, the steering committee said capacity has been improving a lot compared to previous outbreaks, including the production of test kits and diagnostic machines. 

In Đà Nẵng, with the massive number of people needed to be tested in the community, the health ministry decided they would implement ‘pool testing’, where specimens collected from five people would be combined and tested via a single test, according to Acting Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long. 

If the test’s results return positive, then all those five people will be tested again individually, Long continued. 

This will significantly speed up population-level screening, especially in the high-risk groups, the minister said. 

“However, no matter how much we raise our testing capacity, we could never be able to conduct testing of all people, even in just a province, in a short timeframe,” Đam said.

“Therefore, the most important and effective measure is to identify cases, fast trace and focus testing on high-risk groups.”  

In Đà Nẵng, health workers are processing about 8,000-9,000 specimens a day. 

Deputy Đam said through the practical lessons and experience obtained in Đà Nẵng recently, guidelines need to be compiled so that other localities could quickly deploy necessary measures when community cases are discovered. 

He also urged people to install health declaration and contact tracing apps like NCOVI and Bluezone to better identify potential cases. — VNS 

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