Vietnam shouldn't consider Covid common illness yet: WHO

By Thuc Linh   March 24, 2022 | 07:00 am PT
Vietnam shouldn't consider Covid common illness yet: WHO
Health workers vaccinate people against Covid-19 in Binh Thuan Province in south central Vietnam, November 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Truong Chau
The WHO representative in Vietnam said Covid-19 should not be treated as a common illness just yet and basic prevention measures must still be practiced.

"It is too early to say that the pandemic is over or to consider Covid-19 as an endemic disease," Kidong Park, WHO representative in Vietnam, said Wednesday. Countries should transition their pandemic response to a sustained management of Covid-19 and longer-term preparedness, he added.

While Vietnam has been recording rising number of Covid-19 cases ever since the Tet holiday in early February, most of them are mild and can be treated at home, according to the WHO. The numbers of severe cases and deaths are also dropping, it added.

However, high numbers of cases could overwhelm the healthcare system, requiring that control measures like testing and quarantine must remain in place, said Park.

"It is crucial to monitor the trend of severe and critical cases, assess the local healthcare capacity including hospital bed occupancy and availability of hospital beds, and assess vaccine coverage," he stressed.

Vietnam has shifted its coronavirus fighting stance from managing the number of infections to the number of hospitalized cases, as well as severity and death risks. It is also considering to remove Covid-19 from the list of Class A infectious diseases, used to list "especially dangerous" diseases like polio, influenza A-H5N1, plague, smallpox, Ebola, Lassa and Marburg hemorrhagic fever, West Nile fever, yellow fever and cholera.

However, the WHO stated it continues to recommend people to practice simple protective behavior like getting vaccinated, avoiding crowds and wearing masks.

"Though mass community tests are not needed anymore, risk-based tests for individuals for isolation, diagnosis and treatment should be continued," said Park.

Vietnam has recorded over 8.4 million Covid-19 cases so far, with 42,078 deaths. Despite rising numbers of cases, the rates of severe cases and deaths have been dropping thanks to widespread vaccination.

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