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Striving for safe Tet holiday amid global health crisis: Vietnam PM
Duy Nguyen 12:20, 2021/01/07
Both locals and agencies are warned of Covid-19 infections if precautionary measures will not be thoroughly taken.

Vietnam continues making efforts to combat Covid-19 as the Lunar New Year (Tet) approaches, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said.

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Photo: Quang Hieu/VGP

Speaking at the national conference of the Health Ministry held in Hanoi on January 6, the PM asked the health sector to maintain applying preventive measures in every part of the country to ensure a safe holiday for local people.

The sector also needs to keep vigilance against the pandemic in the year to come, especially in the upcoming Tet holiday, the PM noted.

To ensure the safe Tet holiday, which will last between February 10 and February 16 for workers and civil servants and from February 8 to 16 for students, Vietnam’s relevant agencies need to tighten the precautionary measures, mostly immigration control at border gates and boundary areas to prevent imported threats of Covid-19, the Prime Minister requested.

Meanwhile, people have been warned of locally-transmitted infections once they neglect the preventive measures.

 Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long. Photo: Quang Hieu/VGP

At the meeting, the PM praised health workers on the front lines of the pandemic and achievements gained in organ transplant, laparoscopic surgery, cardiovascular intervention and cancer treatment that are as good as in many countries.

PM Phuc praised the production of vaccines against the novel coronavirus. The health sector made human vaccination in mid-December 2020. It plans the human trial for the second kind of vaccine on January 21 and the third kind in March.

So far, Vietnam confirmed 1,505 coronavirus cases and 35 deaths.

Regarding the tightened control over Covid-19 ahead of Tet holiday, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said the border guards have maintained vigilance on the immigration in boundary areas with the presence of more than 10,000 officers at 1,600 checkpoints.

Mr. Long noted that protecting people before the Covid-19 pandemic is the urgency and a key task in 2021.

Vietnam’s life expectancy is average 73.7, the second highest rate in ASEAN behind Singapore and the 56th out of 138 countries and territories.

However, overload at hospital remains the biggest challenge that the health sector needs to address and solve in 2021, both the prime minister and minister raised concerns about. 

2021 targets

The Ministry of Health has set a number of tasks for 2021 with a focus on improving preventive healthcare amid uncertainties of the global health crisis.

The ministry highlighted active prevention, timely response and control of epidemics, and further efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic in the year to come, especially a safe Tet holiday.

The ministry will prepare conditions for soon establishment of central and regional disease control centers, institutes for intensive research on epidemiology and pathogens, and international and regional centers for emergency response.

In addition, it will strengthen dissemination of health education and improve people’s awareness of community and self-protection against diseases.

International experts have praised Vietnam’s healthcare system and attributed the country’s Covid-19 success story largely to preventive healthcare.

The country’s success was down to “the boots on the ground”, says Todd Pollack, an infectious-disease specialist at the Partnership for Health Advancement in Vietnam, a collaboration that provides training and support for the nation’s health system.

Kidong Park, WHO Representative to Vietnam, said “investment during peacetime”, “early activation of a response system” and “a whole-of-society approach under strong leadership” can be highlighted as reasons for Vietnam’s success in containing the novel coronavirus so far.

Regarding the prior preparations “in peacetime,” the WHO representative emphasized that Vietnam already had an action plan ready in the event of a pandemic, which saved weeks of work.

In 2020, Vietnam was one of the first four countries successfully in culturing and isolating the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) in the lab on February 7, 2020. The country also announced the research result for real-time RT PCR test kit to detect SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The country has pursued the strategy to “prevent, detect, isolate, trace, and treat” patients. As of end-2020, over 730,000 people have been quarantined. More than 1.7 million people have been tested for Covid-19. The country also set up 1,608 border guard checkpoints and deployed 10,000 border guards to control disease spreading.

Other tasks of the health sector in 2021 include improving health checkup and treatment, increasing the ratio of medical insurance to 91%, boosting the digitalization in clinic facilities, and promoting the production of vaccines against Covid-19 and domestic medical equipment.

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