Vietnam to strengthen pandemic prevention ahead of biggest holiday

By Le Nga   December 23, 2020 | 06:30 am PT
Vietnam to strengthen pandemic prevention ahead of biggest holiday
A medic takes samples of a man during a Covid-19 mass testing session in central Quang Nam Province in August 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh.
The Health Minister has called on all with respiratory symptoms to get a Covid-19 test to contain any possible outbreaks as Lunar New Year draws near.

"From now until the year-end, we have to implement drastic measures to keep Covid-19 contained so people could enjoy a peaceful Tet," Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, referring to Lunar New Year in mid-February next year, told an online meeting with authorities from across Vietnam on Wednesday.

Though Vietnam has been able to bring the virus under control, a new variant is taking root in the U.K.

The new strain does not make the disease more severe, but it has been said to be 70 percent more transmissible than previous variants.

Vietnam has so far sequenced genomes of all virus samples, especially those in Europe and countries with this strain, confirming the mutation has yet to reach the country.

"But we cannot put our guard down because of this. We need to strengthen prevention and be more aggressive in the fight against the pandemic," he stressed.

This time of year usually sees the spread of many respiratory diseases via airborne transmission, with symptoms often similar to those of Covid-19.

Therefore, anyone showing such symptoms should be tested for the new coronavirus, the minister noted, demanding health authorities in each locality to strengthen their testing capacities and supervision.

He also called for stronger control against illegal immigration.

"Vietnam has recorded 100-150 cases of illegal entry at its border gates, which is very worrisome."

The country since February has operated 1,600 stations along the border to prevent illegal entry and will reinforce its mission in the coming time, he said.

Long demanded local authorities strictly quarantine those entering the country, asking them to prepare for the worst, because "no one can tell when and where Covid-19 can reemerge in the community."

Vietnam has gone three weeks without recording any community transmissions.

With a population of more than 95 million, the nation has so far registered less than 1,500 Covid-19 cases, with more than half imported and the rest community transmissions.

The first three volunteers to receive a dose of Nanocovax, Vietnam's first Covid-19 vaccine developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC., have been in stable condition since their injection last Thursday.

The Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC) and Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 (Vabiotech) are expected to start human trials of their own vaccines early next year.

The remaining producer, the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac), is speeding up progress in producing a vaccine.

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