Vietnam downgrades Covid to common disease

By Viet Tuan   October 19, 2023 | 06:48 pm PT
Vietnam downgrades Covid to common disease
Children and their parents play in a swimming pool in downtown HCMC during the National Day holiday on September 2, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
The Vietnamese government has decided to classify Covid-19 as a common infectious disease.

A decision approved by Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha on Thursday removes the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus from group A, Vietnam's list of dangerous infectious diseases that spread quickly and widely and have a high mortality rate or an unknown causative agent.

These include influenza A - H5N1, all types of plague, smallpox, and cholera.

It has been moved to group B that comprises less dangerous infectious diseases such as the flu, tuberculosis and dengue fever.

When Covid raged in early 2019, the government classified it in group A and declared a state of emergency, taking various measures to contain it.

But life has become normal after more than four years, and people are no longer obliged to adopt any Covid-19 restrictions.

This year the number of infections in Vietnam has been only a 12th of 2021 and a 68th of 2022.

The disease fatality rate is 0.02%, equivalent to or lower than the rates for some other common diseases in the last five years such as dengue fever, malaria, diphtheria, and whooping cough.

Its causative agent has been clearly identified.

In June PM Pham Minh Chinh instructed the Ministry of Health to make preparations to declare an end to the pandemic and that Covid is no longer a dangerous infectious disease.

Since early 2022 he has repeatedly called on health authorities to learn from international experiences to adopt new approaches for living with the disease.

He also instructed the ministry to wind up the National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and instead depend on WHO recommendations and developments on the ground to make new plans to control the disease.

With Covid now declared a common disease, patients will no longer be treated for free.

The incubation time is now reduced to eight days from the previous 28 days, meaning an outbreak will be considered over after eight days if no new cases are detected.

The ministry said this is based on scientific evidence, the current situation and recommendations by WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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