A health worker collects samples from close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hải Dương's Chí Linh City on Thursday. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam should get ready to deal with up to 30,000 new community cases of COVID-19 in the worst-case scenario of the new outbreaks, but health authorities are striving to achieve containment within 10 days, a high-ranking official has said.
Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam, Head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, made the statement during a meeting on Thursday, following 84 new coronavirus cases being confirmed (as of 5pm) after the country had gone nearly two months without local transmission.
The Steering Committee would strive to contain the outbreaks within 10 days, though the current outbreaks are considered much more serious than an outbreak in the central city of Đà Nẵng that took 24 days to put down in the summer, given that there are now cases of the new highly transmissible variant of coronavirus, Đam said.
He urged for measures to be put in place to deal with the worst-case scenario of up to 30,000 infections.
In the coming days, there will be reports of many cases but that shouldn't be cause for panic, Đam said, as the testing range has expanded considerably.
He said that incidents like what is going on in the northern provinces of Quảng Ninh and Hải Dương could easily happen anywhere else.
“If we let our guard down, and unfortunately outbreaks emerge simultaneously in several locations then we will be put in a very difficult position,” Đam said.
He asked for a heightened sense of responsibility from local administrations and State agencies.
“For a virus that spreads faster and more dangerously, our efforts to fight the virus should also be faster and more resolute,” Đam said, adding that there will be utmost efforts expended to ensure "peace and safety" for people for the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday that is just two weeks away.
Đam commended the swift and timely responses of Quảng Ninh, Hải Dương, and the health ministry.
“We have not wasted any minute, any hour, and this spirit should be continued,” he added.
Đam said the most important mission at the moment is to continue tracing contacts to identify which areas need to be put under lockdown, or which degrees of social distancing are needed.
All medical establishments and hospitals need to be on higher alert.
“All cases of coughing or fever go to the hospitals for examination. The new variant spreads very fast, and if the hospital’s patients contract the disease that would be very dangerous, worse if the doctors and medical staff are infected,” he said.
Hải Dương, one of the provinces with the highest number of elderly people with underlying health issues in the country, should be extra careful, he ordered.
“The Đà Nẵng situation cannot be repeated,” he said, referring to the clusters of coronavirus in chronic disease wards of hospitals in Đà Nẵng last year, which resulted in 35 deaths.
Quảng Ninh authorities have expanded the range of their tracing against all infected cases to cover about 3,000 people who have been at the airport in the past 15 days. They admitted the risk of infection for these people are low, but cannot be ruled out.
Earlier in the morning, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc chaired an urgent Government meeting as the top leaders of the country are gathering in Hà Nội for the 13th National Party Congress.
“We have to be transparent with the information but we have to remain calm,” he said.
“[We will] swiftly suppress the outbreaks but, at the same time, won’t cause panic and shock among the public, and ensure the successes of the Congress," the Vietnamese Government leader added.
He also said leaders of Hải Dương and Quảng Ninh provinces along with members of the health ministry and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control could take a leave of absence from the Congress to personally direct the measures. — VNS