Vietnam’s Ministry of Health (MoH) has asked localities to set out scenarios and plans with stronger preventive measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic amid the emergence of the Omicron variant which may trigger community outbreaks.
In a recent dispatch sent to heads of Covid-19 prevention and control boards, and chairpersons of People’s Committees of cities and provinces, the ministry stressed that Omicron cases have been found in all northern, central and southern regions of Vietnam.
Though all the Omicron cases were imported and quarantined in a timely manner, the MoH asked localities to improve medical capacity, especially at the grassroots level, and ensure medical supplies as well as personnel to serve the combat.
"The risks of detecting incoming people infected with the Omicron variant and community outbreaks are very high in the time ahead," the health ministry warned.
The MoH recommends localities to strengthen supervision and management on foreign passengers. Photo: Thai Binh
Therefore, it has requested localities to prepare their Covid-19 responses and ramp up medical capabilities and resources. They must also monitor incoming people vigorously and perform contact tracing should an infection be found.
People entering Vietnam must undergo close monitoring, the ministry said, adding that great efforts are needed in contact tracing, medical quarantine and testing even when a single Omicron case is detected.
The MoH urged localities to speed up vaccination for people above 12 years old, review the list of high-risk groups, and those with underlying diseases, while continuing with the use of digital health record platforms.
It emphasized pandemic prevention and control at industrial parks, schools and workplaces, particularly hospitals, production facilities, supermarkets, airports, and bus and railway stations.
Localities need to step up the communication work to raise public awareness of the variant and encourage them to seriously observe the pandemic prevention and control regulations, the ministry said.
Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long on January 5 said the Covid-19 pandemic might not be put under complete control in 2022, and more dangerous variants may show up in future.
The number of coronavirus carriers may rise quickly in the future despite vaccination, and while cases with the Omicron variant may be less likely to turn severe, the high number of cases may overwhelm the medical system and lead to more deaths, Long warned.
Vietnam confirmed its first Omicron infection last month, acquired by a person arriving in Hanoi from the UK on December 19, 2021.
The country has recorded 25 Covid-19 cases infected with the Omicron variant so far. There are 15 in central province of Quang Nam, six in Ho Chi Minh City, two in Thanh Hoa, and one each in Hanoi, Hai Duong and Hai Phong.
Around 78.1 million Vietnamese people have received their first Covid-19 vaccine shots, 70.2 million have received their second shots, and 8.5 million have received their third shots.