Don't panic and stockpile food, health ministry advises

By Le Nga   February 5, 2020 | 10:53 pm PT
Don't panic and stockpile food, health ministry advises
A woman chooses cabbage at a supermarket in Hanoi, February 5, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Hoai Thu.
The Health Ministry has allayed public concerns over the novel coronavirus epidemic, saying there's no need to panic and stockpile food.

Vietnam has taken tight control measures and is confident of fighting the novel coronavirus (nCoV), and people should not worry too much or stock up food, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said at a press conference Wednesday.

He said the public should stay calm and follow all the guidelines on healthcare and personal hygiene from the ministry and should not be confused by rumors and unverified information.

"There has been information calling for people to store food and even gold but it’s all baseless.

"We have implemented preventive methods that are much stronger than those applied to fight SARS back in 2003, and we're going to do our best to control the new coronavirus," Long said.

Fears sparked about the spread and impact of the nVoC have sent many citizens flocking to shops and supermarkets to stockpile meat, vegetables and rice to avoid venturing outdoors, especially since last Saturday, when Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc declared it a national epidemic.

Elaborating on how Vietnam is managing the ongoing epidemic, Long said the most important step was quarantining.

Different layers of quarantining have been applied for everyone returning from China, given that all 31 direct jurisdictions in the country have confirmed infections after the virus first appeared in its Wuhan City in Hubei Province last December.

So far, around 900 people have been quarantined in northern provinces sharing borders with China, and most of them are Vietnamese nationals.

Anyone who has been in contact with those people are also being closely monitored, the deputy health minister said.

Sunlight and airy space

Long also gave advice on how to use face masks, saying people could use different types of masks instead of just surgical masks in a normal environment.

It is necessary to wear a mask in crowded places but under other circumstances, it would be better to make use of the high natural temperature, sunlight and wind to prevent the virus.

"The new coronavirus is afraid of sunlight, wind and airy space and therefore we should open windows to take advantage of natural conditions to weaken the virus," he said.

So far, there's still no specific treatment regimen developed for the nCoV infection. The treatment depends on three basic principles: symptomatic treatment, ensuring nutrition and water and electrolyte balance through adequate nutrition.

Vietnam is using its own regimen in combination with international methods, including using the HIV and flu medications to treat nCoV infected patients as is being done in other countries including China.

"The lesson from fighting SARS is that the most effective solution does not need to be the most complicated one. The National Hospital for Tropical Diseases had succeeded in treating SARS by the method of opening windows to provide airy space for patients."

Since January 23 to date, Vietnam has 10 confirmed nCoV infections, three of whom have been discharged from hospitals, and the remaining seven are all recovering well, including the 66-year-old Chinese man at Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, who has hypertension, diabetes, stents in the heart and had undergone surgery for lung cancer.

The country so far recorded 409 suspected cases of whom 347 have tested negative for the virus. 349 others who had close contact with infected patients are being closely monitored.

Long said it was still too early to evaluate the epidemic in Vietnam but he confirmed that "Vietnamese health sector is capable of treating pneumonia caused by the 2019-nCoV."

"We need to stay calm to win this fight," he said.

As of Thursday morning, the global nCoV death toll had hit 565 and confirmed infections risen to over 28,200, of whom 1,270 had recovered.

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