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After 30 days of no community infection, Vietnam mulls declaring end of COVID-19 epidemic

Saturday, May 16, 2020, 11:40 GMT+7
After 30 days of no community infection, Vietnam mulls declaring end of COVID-19 epidemic
People take a ‘we-fie’ as they finish their mandatory 14-day coronavirus disease (COVID-19) quarantine at a facility in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, April 2020. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam has gone 30 straight days without a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection among the community, as the national committee on the disease prevention and control has made a proposal to proclaim the end of the epidemic in the country.

Vietnam’s last infection detected in the community — identified as Patient No. 268 — was on April 16.

The 16-year-old Vietnamese girl from the northern province of Ha Giang had been quarantined since April 7.

The country has since reported 44 imported cases, who are Vietnamese citizens returning from overseas, with Friday, May 15, setting a record daily increase of 25 infections from Russia and the UAE.

The nation’s infection tally is at 314, with 260 recoveries and no deaths as of Saturday morning.

Vietnam’s Law on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases decrees that an epidemic can be called off if no new cases of infection are detected after a certain period of time and other conditions specific to each epidemic as prescribed by the prime minister are met.

The period of time applicable to the COVID-19 epidemic is 28 days — from when the last COVID-19 patient is quarantined — according to a decision signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on February 26, 2020.

“However, the current Law on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases does not distinguish between community and imported infections,” a representative of the Ministry of Justice told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

This creates a grey area concerning the prerequisites for Vietnam’s declaration of the end of the epidemic in the country.

Women clap their hands to celebrate the lift of a COVID-19 lockdown imposed in Ha Loi Village, Me Linh District, Hanoi, Vietnam, May 6, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre
Residents react as a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown imposed on Ha Loi Village in Me Linh District, Hanoi, Vietnam is lifted, May 6, 2020. Photo: Mai Thuong / Tuoi Tre

Meanwhile, the National Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has submitted a proposal on calling off the epidemic to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, a member of the committee told Tuoi Tre on Friday afternoon.

PM Phuc on Friday also announced that Vietnam “had gained initial success in realizing the dual targets of containing the disease and promoting production and business.”

Kidong Park, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Vietnam, said in a recent meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam that he was impressed by the rapid and effective anti-epidemic measures that the Southeast Asian country had implemented.

“I want to spend time analyzing and synthesizing lessons and experiences in preventing and controlling epidemics from Vietnam to share with the international community,” Park said.

In 2003, Vietnam was the first country in the world to have its declaration of successfully controlling the SARS epidemic confirmed by the WHO after its last patient had been discharged from the hospital on March 2, 2003.

Seventeen years later, the COVID-19 epidemic, which shares some similarities to SARS, has seen Vietnam earning praise from the WHO and global media for its swift and effective response to the crisis.

Vietnam has met conditions for life to return to normal, with COVID-19 social distancing measures having been eased and the economy, schools and businesses gradually reopened.

However, Nguyen Van Kinh, chairman of the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 professional council, underlined that COVID-19 is different from SARS, warning that positive cases might not be easy to detect as 40 percent of COVID-19 patients exhibits no clinical symptoms.

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