Covid situation no longer to be decided by daily caseload: health ministry

By Viet Tuan   January 14, 2022 | 12:58 am PT
Covid situation no longer to be decided by daily caseload: health ministry
Doctors take care of Covid-19 patients at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, December 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
The Health Ministry has said it will stop relying on the daily infection tally to assess the Covid-19 situation and will only consider the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

The ministry is drafting a new set of criteria to classify the pandemic level since the situation has evolved a great deal, Deputy Minister Nguyen Truong Son told VnExpress Thursday.

As of Wednesday more than 65.4 million people aged over 18, or 93.2 percent of the adult population, had received two shots of Covid vaccines, and 12.5 percent had also got a booster.

Of children aged 12-17, more than 6.1 million or 68.5 percent have got two shots.

The number of severe cases has been dropping nationwide, staying at 6,150 per day on average in the past seven days compared to around 7,500 a month earlier.

"The new criteria will not rely too much on the rate of community infections because treatment of mild and asymptomatic infections is done at home in many localities," Son said.

Nguyen Viet Hung, deputy head of the Hanoi Association for Infection Control, agreed with the move to change the criteria.

With the high vaccination rate, counting the number of infections every day "no longer carries significance" and would affect the economic recovery efforts, he said.

He cited the example of Hanoi saying the number of community cases there has been on the rise lately and many districts have had to close non-essential businesses or stop them from serving customers on-site.

But the number of severe cases and deaths in the city is lower than the national average, he said.

Between Jan. 1 and 9 it led the country in the number of cases, but deaths account for only 0.4 percent of cases compared to the national rate of 1.3 percent.

Hung proposed that the new set of criteria should only consider the rate of severe cases and deaths, the medical capacity of each locality and the vaccination rate in the case of people aged over 50.

Medical expert Tran Si Tuan said it is very hard for Vietnam to keep out the Omicron variant from the community.

"With the new strain moving much faster than Delta, if the existing criteria, which rely on the number of daily infections, are kept unchanged, many localities will be designated as ‘very high-risk’ or ‘high-risk’ zones, and that will greatly affect production and business activities."

The number of infections should only be used to predict the trajectory of the outbreak rather than as a basis for classifying pandemic levels, he said.

The vaccination criterion also needs to be removed because the nation has almost fully immunized the adult population, he said.

He proposed just two criteria: the rate of critical cases and deaths and the medical capacity of a locality.

The current criteria, issued last October, include the number of community infections per week, vaccine coverage ratio and medical capacity.

Vietnam has so far had 1.95 million cases, both imported and domestic, and a mortality rate of 1.8 percent.

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