The coronavirus (nCoV) is spreading globally. In addition to specific tasks for ministries and localities, what are the key methods that the country is taking to prevent and fight the outbreak?
|Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thanh Long, Deputy Minister of Health|
We are very active in dealing with the nCoV epidemic, and we have prepared all methods for the prevention and fight at all levels of outbreak development. Importantly, we have close directions from the Secretariat of the CPV Central Committee, the government, and the prime minister.
In addition, there is consistent and efficient co-ordination between ministries and agencies. The National Steering Committee for Coronavirus Prevention has a meeting every two days to deploy measures in a comprehensive manner, aiming to efficiently constrain infections.
The prime minister has said that we accept to lay down some economic interests in order to ensure the safety and lives of people because their lives and health is the important thing. Previous outbreaks such as SARS and MERS were both similar infections of the respiratory system. They were caused by types of coronavirus related to 2019-nCoV.
Among the three epidemics, MERS had the highest death rate at 34.5 per cent, with SARS next at over 10 per cent. Compared to SARS in 2003, our current measures are stronger.
Quarantine is an important method. Currently, the country has three levels of quarantine: at healthcare facilities, concentrated quarantine, and at-home quarantine with supervision. This method was taken in 2003, and with this Vietnam successfully fought against the deadly SASR outbreak.
As of February 5, around 900 potentially-infected people have been quarantined in localities which border China, with the majority being Vietnamese. Now, all major border gates and six side gates are controlled. The Ministry of Health is ready for all levels of epidemic developments, even in the worst situation if the outbreak reaches a nationwide spread. We have prepared about 3,000 sickbeds, of which 2,000 are in Hanoi.
Vietnam has successfully cured three nCoV cases. What treatment process is applied, and what are the lessons from the success in fighting SARS?
The testing method to detect coronavirus-infected cases that the world is applying is known as real-time PCR – a method with high sensitivity and specificity. There is no specific treatment available for nCoV infections.
At present, treatment of infected cases is mainly symptomatic treatment, meaning that if victims have a fever, doctors will supply antipyretic treatment while ensuring sufficient nutrition, perfusion, and respiratory monitoring. If disease development is minor, victims can breathe oxygen and if it is serious, a re-breather is used. The infection cases in Vietnam are being treated via symptomatic treatment. Now three of them are successfully cured and have been discharged from hospital. We can be ensured that this therapeutic regimen is now on par with the world.
Vietnam also used this regimen for SARS treatment at a time when our conditions were insufficient. We applied symptomatic treatment, respiratory monitoring, and built quarantine loops to prevent infection at health facilities, successfully fighting against the SARS pandemic.
We affirm that the healthcare sector is capable of fighting and treating of the nCoV outbreak. We are constantly updating appropriate and improved therapeutic regimens in line with the rest of the world such as treatment experiences in China and Thailand, and other new methods. Currently, China is using HIV drugs in coronavirus treatment because the country bases that the nCoV strain is similar to parts of the RNA sequence found in HIV. Some effectiveness has been proven, and these drugs are also available in Vietnam. The country is ready to use this when necessary.
Amid serious development of the epidemic, what are the next actions of the healthcare sector in the upcoming days?
We are preparing to have professional council meetings to learn from the successful cure of the three cases, and update the therapeutic regimen for treatment facilities, even those in districts.
We propose to set up a fourth quarantine loop, meaning quarantining people that have had direct contact with those already in contact with infected cases, in order to increase safety and thus minimise the infection rate.
In order to help people assess possible risks and guide them with self-quarantine and contact with health facilities, we are working with Viettel on a mobile app which will be completed in the next days.
Xiong Bo – Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam
We have seen the efforts of the Party and government of Vietnam in disease prevention and in controlling the epidemic. I find that the measures are very effective. At the same time, we think it is important to attach more importance to epidemic prevention, assess the situation in a scientific way, and apply necessary and appropriate measures.
The Party and the government of Vietnam expressed their solicitude for China immediately after the outbreak occurred. The two sides should try not to cut off transport, and especially trade between the two countries.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has sent condolences to Chinese leaders about the situation. The Vietnamese government and the Vietnam Red Cross Society have provided medical commodities and equipment to China, which clearly shows the international spirit of timely support and helping each other during tribulations, as well as actively contributing to help the two countries fight against the epidemic.
Chinese people are very grateful to Vietnam, especially the medical institutions for the timely treatment of Chinese citizens in Vietnam, and the northern border provinces of Vietnam, which have also taken appropriate measures to help people in border provinces in China to fight the epidemic. China and Vietnam are close friends, and China hopes to continue working closely with Vietnam to combat this epidemic.
The Chinese government is fighting against this in the most rigorous manner possible. It is fair to say that the issue is being gradually controlled, and we are reaching the turning point.
It is probably inevitable that the economy is to be affected by the epidemic, as the virus broke out during the Lunar New Year. Most people went back to their hometowns and are still unable to get back to work, while production of some industries cannot be resumed. But it will not affect the economic fundamentals, and the long-term trajectory of China’s economy improving will not change.
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