Vietnamese Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long has warned of ‘very big’ and ‘existent’ risks of COVID-19 spread in Vietnam as well as complacency in quarantine at hotels and civilian facilities, even when the Southeast Asian country has recorded no transmission for nearly three months.
Minister Long chaired a teleconference from Hanoi on Tuesday with health officials in all 63 provinces and cities of Vietnam on the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus.
‘Very big’ risk of COVID-19 transmission in Vietnam
Worry remains in spite of Vietnam having spent 83 days detecting zero COVID-19 cases in the community, Minister Long said during the online meeting.
Vietnam has done a good job containing the virus over the past months thanks to the collective will of the whole political system, the official said, noting that there is a rise in the number of cases in countries around the world.
“Some European nations have reinstated lockdowns and social distancing measures as we did early this year,” Minister Long said.
“Infections there have, however, showed no signs of deceleration, which is a cause for our concern.”
The detection of many infection clusters has hindered pandemic control and prevention efforts in such countries, he said.
“Therefore, the risk of COVID-19 spread to Vietnam is very big and existent,” he underscored.
“If we get into situations [similar to those in Europe], our medical system will be unable to cope.”
Long went on to warn of a source of infections from illegal entrants into Vietnam from other countries.
“Every day there are many entrants, for example 5,000 by road yesterday, including 77 illegal ones from the northern border and 2-3 cases in each locality along the southern boundary,” he elaborated.
“These are official numbers, what about those slipping through the net?"
Complacency in quarantine at civilian facilities
Minister Long admitted that he could not guarantee to absolutely prevent the virus from spreading to the community from repatriation flights to Vietnam, despite the country’s strict quarantine regulations.
“Some localities have showed negligence and complacency in quarantining entrants, especially at hotels and civilian facilities, notwithstanding the health ministry urging them to be careful,” Long complained.
Military quarantine centers which are well managed cannot admit all entrants in the meantime, the official said.
Testing is still modest though it is the only way to confirm infections, Minister Long stated.
Local authorities are strongly recommended to take measures to prevent transmission in hospitals since all medical facilities have returned to normal operations.
“We have returned to normal life but we should be more vigilant at this time,” the minister underlined.
Vietnam has recorded 1,316 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday night, with 1,153 recoveries and 35 virus-related deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
The Southeast Asian country began denying entry to foreign nationals on March 22 but the government allows foreign experts, skilled workers, investors, and diplomats to enter the country on a case-by-case basis, subject to mandatory quarantine.
Though international commercial flights are now suspended, charter planes to the country have been arranged to bring in experts, skilled workers, and diplomats, and to repatriate Vietnamese citizens stranded in other nations and territories due to the pandemic.
Vietnam currently charges international arrivals for quarantine.
It provided the quarantine service for free in the past.