Coming weeks ‘critical’ for Vietnam in pandemic fight: WHO official

The World Health Organization country representative for Vietnam has recommended a three-point action plan to tackle likely pandemic scenarios, noting that the coming weeks are ‘critical’.

First, Vietnam should vaccinate priority groups, including medical workers, the elderly, people with underlying diseases, and then the whole community as quickly as possible. In addition, vaccination priority should be given to areas with relatively weak healthcare systems, Kidong Park, the WHO representative in Vietnam, told the Vietnam News Agency.

Secondly, the country needs to make sure that people strictly follow the Ministry of Health’s protocols on Covid-19 prevention, including wearing masks, keeping distance and avoiding mass gatherings at schools and workplaces even after social distancing rules have been eased.

For this part, Vietnam could also come up with more measures for personal protection and public health measures to reduce transmission as much as possible, Park said.

Thirdly, it needs to further strengthen healthcare capacity to better manage critical Covid-19 cases and introduce an appropriate roadmap for Covid-19 treatment to avoid overload in the medical system with mild and moderate cases.

Evaluating what Vietnam has been done so far to contain the virus, Park said the epidemic situation in Vietnam remains “very complicated and difficult,” with the number of cases crossing more than half a million people since the beginning of September this year.

The nation has kept reporting a high number of cases and deaths daily in the past weeks, mainly from Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding provinces.

“This is a situation of concern and a sign of a high risk of community transmission,” he said.

The healthcare system is under enormous pressure, medical staff are working non-stop and some medical facilities in infected localities have been overloaded, he added.

He commended the Vietnamese government for making great efforts and mobilizing resources to contain the outbreak, especially supporting localities that are hotspots with experts and other human resources.

The pandemic prevention campaign is now being implemented by the highest agency of the government, with Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh now working as head of the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, which shows the high determination of the Vietnamese government in controlling the outbreak, Park said.

There is still a lot of work ahead for Vietnam and the coming weeks are “critical,” he stressed.

He said WHO believes that Vietnam’s public health emergency response strategy in controlling the current outbreak is “on the right track.”

Vietnam has recorded 620,166 community cases in 62 out of its 63 cities and localities so far in the fourth Covid-19 wave that broke out late April. The latest outbreak has claimed 15,625 lives.

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