Maintaining and expanding safe zones against COVID-19

Wednesday, 2021-07-21 11:11:59
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Can Tho's people queuing up to buy food with a safe distance. (Photo: NDO)
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NDO – Towards the aim of putting the protection and care of people’s health first and foremost, the Prime Minister directed 19 southern provinces and cities to impose social distancing under the Prime Minister's Directive No.16/CT-TTg (Directive 16) for 14 days starting 0am on July 19.

The social distancing aims to slow down the spread and eventually cut off the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In addition to the main principles of Directive 16 that must be maintained, localities should study and apply measures flexibly for each specific area in the localities, avoiding rigid implementation without considering epidemiological factors. Only in this way can the effectiveness of epidemic prevention and control be maintained, without too much impact on people's lives.

Party committees and authorities of the localities and specialised agencies need to follow the guidelines under the “Regulation on risk assessment and corresponding administrative measures in COVID-19 prevention and control” issued by the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. It indicates basic epidemiological factors to determine the initial risk level that were shown up to the communal level on the anti-epidemic map with the corresponding colours including very high risk (red), high risk (orange), risk (yellow) and new normal (green). Notably, this regulation empowers local authorities to direct the implementation of corresponding epidemic prevention and control measures based on the risk assessment while supplementing and applying necessary measures at a higher level in line with the specific conditions of the localities and the epidemic situation in the areas.

In addition to the 19 provinces and cities imposing social distancing, several others are applying Directive 16 on a small scale or Directive 15 and even their own regulations.

Importantly, localities should take advantage of the "golden opportunity" during the social distancing period to conduct zoning and blockade as well as to assess and fully analyse epidemiological factors to divide areas into “red, orange, yellow and green” zones. On that basis, COVID-19 prevention and control measures will be implemented synchronously to control and prevent further outbreaks and quickly zoning and stamping out the epidemic. For the "red and orange" zones, local health sectors must identify the "epidemic centre” as well as conduct tracing, localisation and rapid testing in combination with RT-PCR testing to remove F0 cases from the community, towards gradually cleaning and narrowing the outbreak, thus turning very high-risk areas into “yellow” and “green” zones. The remaining areas should continue to promote the strategy of “prevention, detection, tracing, zoning, stamping out and treatment”, with the aim of keeping and expanding the safe “green” zones and isolating “yellow” zones. In addition to the highest protection of the health system, the localities need to screen the community, especially in areas facing high risks such as markets, bus stations, water shops and supermarkets.

The extent of social distancing in the zones is decided by the localities’ leaders. However, it is crucial to ensure the seriousness to avoid the phenomenon of “being tight outside but loose inside”, creating the risk of epidemic transmission in the distanced areas. The local authorities and health sectors should actively develop epidemic prevention and control scenarios for each specific time as well as promptly replenish inventory and equipment for treatment of severe patients. The PM has requested the establishment of seven special task forces in combating COVID-19 epidemic. Therefore, the localities, especially those imposing Directive 16, must connect regularly with the forces, the working groups of the Ministry of Health and relevant ministries and agencies to solve arising problems immediately.

More than ever, the implementation of Directive 16 is not only the responsibility and obligation, but also the right of every citizen. People in the distanced areas should strictly follow the regulations of the authorities and professional agencies and may only go out when absolutely necessary. Each individual needs to maintain good health habits such as taking exercise at home and eating hygienically. If symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing appear, people should wear face masks and go to the nearest medical facility for examination, quarantine and timely treatment.

Trung Tuyen
Translated by NDO