HÀ NỘI — A senior medical expert has warned that even though social distancing regulations have been greatly eased in Hà Nội, the capital city is still at risk of further COVID-19 outbreaks.
Trần Đắc Phu, senior expert of the Việt Nam Public Health Emergency Operation Centre, said the chances of further clusters emerging are increased as more migrant workers and students return to the city.
Phu, a former head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine, said that as the COVID-19 vaccination rate in other localities was still modest, Hà Nội should pay attention to those people returning to work and study from outside the city.
He also said a plan needed to be put in place to vaccinate children.
"As a city with a high population and a major transport socio-economic hub of Việt Nam, Hà Nội always faces a high risk of a COVID-19 outbreak," Phu said, urging the city to be more active and flexible in COVID-19 prevention and control.
During the fourth wave of the pandemic in Việt Nam, Hà Nội's authorities and residents, with assistance from other localities, made strong efforts to protect the city and begin a new normal stage.
After a number of days without any COVID-19 infections in community, Hà Nội reported two new community cases last Friday. Six other community cases were reported on Sunday.
Phu said that in the future, the city would still have much work to do including the implementation of the Government's Resolution 128, which was issued middle this month, providing temporary guidance on “Safe adaptation, flexibility and effective control of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Phu also suggested regular testing for people with a high risk of infection and those living in high risk areas.
All people with symptoms of fever, cough or breathing difficulties should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 to quickly detect COVID-19 infections in community and ensure a fast response and risk assessment.
Phu highly recommended people get vaccinated against COVID-19, particularly old people and those with underlying health problems.
Phu said that Hà Nội should apply home quarantine and reduce centralised quarantine zones while preparing COVID-19 treatment facilities in the event of a fresh outbreak.
"Now is the time for the city to focus on training for medical workers so that they could deal with any further complicated developments of the pandemic," he said.
Communication and information and technological applications must be strengthened.
Sectors, agencies and areas must have specific response plans so that they could effectively fight the pandemic and resume production, trade and business.
Phu emphasised the role of people in COVID-19 prevention and control, saying that "only when people strictly follow preventive measures, could COVID-19 prevention and control work generate positive results."
He added: "Until now, the pandemic has not broken out in Hà Nội, its economy is still growing, social security is guaranteed, I see it a great success.
“These results are thanks to central and local leadership, authorities at all levels, the health sector and especially the support, responsibility, consensus of the people of the capital.
“The city correctly assessed the situation, reacted early, applied appropriate and timely measures, so it was always in a proactive position to control the disease.
"Although the COVID-19 pandemic is a medical problem, it requires inclusive comprehensive solutions," he said, adding that without proper and prompt preparation and response, an outbreak could cause heavy damage to people’s health and lives.
But he did say a fine line must be trodden to make sure people remain calm and not over react, as a heavy-handed approach could affect economic development as well as social security, he said.
By October 24, Hà Nội had seen 3,980 COVID-19 cases during the fourth wave of pandemic that hit late April. Of the cases, more than 1,600 were detected in community and the remaining 2,372 were found in quarantine or locked down areas. — VNS
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