New Covid outbreak in Vietnam unlikely as China reopens: experts

By Le Nga, Thuc Linh   December 28, 2022 | 10:55 pm PT
New Covid outbreak in Vietnam unlikely as China reopens: experts
Travelers walk with their luggage at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, China, December 27, 2022. Photo by Reuters/Tingshu Wang
As China reopens its borders, it is unlikely that Vietnam will experience another bout of Covid-19 thanks to widespread vaccine coverage and high herd immunity, experts assure.

China's reopening and lifting of quarantine on January 8 mean there could be many infected people among those entering from that country.

China has been moving away from its zero-tolerance policy and adopting an approach of living with Covid, and so the number of infections has been rising sharply.

Tran Dac Phu, a senior advisor at Public Health Emergency Operations Center, said: "Vietnam is unlikely to witness another Covid outbreak as most people have already been infected with Covid, and carry antibodies," adding that Vietnam should not ban or test arrivals from China.

Vietnam has given its 98 million population nearly 265.5 million doses of Covid vaccines, including a booster shot for nearly 80% of people aged over 18.

A random survey on Covid herd immunity done in Ho Chi Minh City found more than 98% carrying antibodies.

Nguyen Huy Nga, former head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, said a new Covid wave is unlikely to threaten Vietnam given the widespread vaccination and high herd immunity.

Despite scrapping the requirement for Covid tests for foreign arrivals a long time ago, it could be seen that the pandemic situation is under control, he said.

Nevertheless, he said people should stay calm but vigilant as the country is about to celebrate Tet, the Lunar New Year, Vietnam's biggest holiday, and many overseas Vietnamese would return home to their families.

Experts also agreed that Covid tests should not be required for people coming from China, Vietnam's biggest tourism market before the pandemic.

Vietnamese epidemiologists' viewpoints are similar to that of their counterparts in other countries in the region.

According to infectious disease experts in Singapore, there is no need to impose strict entry requirements for travelers from China even though the number of infections in that country has been on the rise.

Dr Paul Tambyah, president of the Asia-Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, was quoted by South China Morning Post as saying: "The incidence of new cases in China does not appear to be more than in other temperate countries such as Germany, France and the United States. Furthermore, there is little evidence that travel restrictions work."

The U.S. on Wednesday announced mandatory Covid-19 tests for travelers from China, joining India, Italy, Japan, and Taiwan.

Last week, at the 19th meeting of the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, Minister of Health Dao Hong Lan warned about the potential risk of new outbreaks due to new variants of Covid.

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