Don't relax Covid-19 vigilance, WHO tells Vietnam

By Le Nga   April 28, 2021 | 04:51 pm PT
Don't relax Covid-19 vigilance, WHO tells Vietnam
A woman helps her son put on a face mask outside a school in HCMC, May 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nhu Quynh.
The World Health Organization has advised Vietnam to remain alert for Covid-19 outbreaks despite the recent absence of community transmissions and an ongoing vaccination campaign.

Vietnam needs to stay vigilant before the looming threat of new coronavirus outbreaks coming from beyond its border, even during an ongoing vaccination campaign, Kidong Park, the WHO representative in Vietnam, said Tuesday.

"The risk of case introduction to Vietnam including onward community transmission is high especially if cases among the illegal incoming travelers go undetected," Park said.

Cambodia has been in the grip of a new wave since late February. Its caseload has crossed 11,700, after recording only around 400 cases the whole of last year.

The Lao government last Friday closed the country’s borders and announced a two-week lockdown in capital Vientiane. On Monday, the country recorded 113 new cases, its highest single-day tally. There were 93 new cases on Wednesday, taking the national infection toll to 604.

Thailand reported 2,012 new Covid-19 cases Wednesday, the sixth straight day it recorded more than 2,000 daily cases, taking the total to 61,699 so far. Last year it had detected less than 7,000 cases.

Despite Vietnam’s successful record in the coronavirus fight, the recent surges in certain countries including India show that the crisis can worsen anytime and there’s still a "long way to go as a global community," he said.

Officially, the number of cases in India surged by 362,902 in just 24 hours. As of Thursday, the country of 1.3 billion people has recorded mroe than 18.3 million infections and 204,812 Covid deaths, after 3,647 more died overnight.

Globally, 5.7 million cases and 88 000 deaths were reported to WHO last year.

"We are nearing 150 million cases of Covid-19 and 3.1 million deaths since the start of the pandemic. These are worrying trends as we continue to see the impact of variants, opening up of societies, and inequitable vaccine rollout," Park said.

In Vietnam, the public needs to be kept informed of the risks and public health measures to be adhered to, even as a national Covid-19 vaccination program is being rolled out, he advised.

The government also needs to be alert and active in risk assessment, preparing for possible resurgence of cases by ramping up border surveillance and control, setting up field hospitals in areas close to the border and advising its citizens in other countries to avoid illegal entry, among other measures, he added.

Vietnam has not recorded any new community transmission in over a month, but officials have been warning that the threat of another Covid-19 outbreak is imminent, especially via illegal entrants. Residents have been asked to wear masks in public and avoid large gatherings.

Meanwhile, patrol teams have been deployed round the clock at the border in certain provinces like Kien Giang, An Giang and Dong Thap. Field hospitals are planned in Can Tho, a vital traffic intersection in the Mekong Delta; and extra Covid-19 vaccine doses have been provided to certain Mekong Delta provinces.

So far, over 425,000 people have been vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine made by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca. Most of them are frontline workers in the coronavirus fight, including doctors, soldiers and police personnel.

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