WHO highlights public awareness for Vietnam to coexist with Covid-19

By Le Nga, Thuc Linh   October 9, 2021 | 01:46 am PT
WHO highlights public awareness for Vietnam to coexist with Covid-19
A man shops at a bookstore on Nguyen Van Binh Book Street in HCMC's District 1, October 9, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
To live with Covid-19, Vietnam needs to ensure vaccine coverage, strengthen its health capacity and local awareness, the WHO recommends.

The pandemic will continue to last in many countries, including Vietnam, so it needs to have a way to live safely with it, Kidong Park, representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), told VnExpress on Friday in an interview.

First of all, vaccine coverage should be given to priority groups, especially healthcare workers, frontline workers responding to outbreaks, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions. In addition, vaccination priority should also be given to areas hit hard by the outbreak, where health systems are limited.

The country should also continue to strictly implement all Covid-19 measures as regulated by the Health Ministry, including wearing masks and keeping a distance at schools and workplaces even when social distancing measures have been eased.

The capacity of the health system should be reinforced to better manage severe Covid-19 patients, and at the same time provide an appropriate roadmap and care model to avoid overloading hospitals with mild and medium cases.

Besides, it should be noted that each individual needs to continue to protect themselves by getting vaccinated, keeping a safe distance, wearing masks, avoiding poorly ventilated places, washing hands regularly and ensure respiratory hygiene, Park said.

The epidemic situation is easing throughout Vietnam. On Oct. 8, the nation had gone four days in a row with daily infections below 5,000 compared to an average of more than 10,000 per day in September and even more in August.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the epicenter of the latest outbreak, the number of daily cases has dropped by more than half in recent days and the city has kept reporting a higher number of Covid-19 discharges while a number of field hospitals in the city have been dissolved after completing their mission.

With a population of 96 million, Vietnam has administered more than 50.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, 37 million have got the first shot while 13.6 million have been fully immunized with two doses.

The Ministry of Health has said that more vaccines would arrive in the coming time for Vietnam to realize the target of fully vaccinating at least 70 percent of those over 18 across the nation by 2022.

Given the next context with a higher vaccination rate, the ministry has built a draft guidance document on pandemic response.

Nguyen Thi Lien Huong, head of the ministry’s Environmental Management Department, told a meeting last month the most important part of the guidance is "accepting Covid-19 in the community," which means Vietnam will no longer hold the "zero Covid" outlook as before.

Measures to prevent the pandemic will be flexibly adjusted according to each level of the outbreak and according to the population group that has been vaccinated, or contracted and recovered from the disease, she said.

However, new community infections still need to be detected early to localize the infected area to the smallest possible.

Those coming in direct contact with infected people still need to be isolated.

"If we don't continue to implement such measures, it will lead to uncontrolled opening, causing huge consequences to people's health and lives, potentially increasing the death rate. Reopening without any controlling measures will also lead to a bad scenario that has already happened in some countries, in which they had to rush to shut down just a short time after reopening, even with high vaccination rates," she said.

The WHO representative in Vietnam said the pandemic is not over yet and it is too early to give a direct answer to the question "what lessons can be learned from countries successfully living with Covid-19?"

"But the experience from previous medical emergencies and the current pandemic situation shows that we need to break the cycle of 'panic and neglect,' and must always be on high alert," he said.

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