Vietnam’s fight against COVID-19 shows positive signals

Monday, 2021-10-04 18:38:19
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Thanks to the effectiveness in epidemic prevention and control, the daily life of the people in Hanoi has gradually returned to normal. (Photo: DANG ANH)
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NDO – Following five months of carrying out strong measures, from direction to professional and technical solutions, information technology application and digital transformation, the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam is seeing positive signals.

Localities have gradually eased social distancing and the whole country is preparing to adapt to a new normal with safe and flexible adaptation and effective control of the pandemic.

During the three previous outbreaks of the epidemic, Vietnam recorded only 2,852 infections; however, over 805,000 cases have so far been reported in this fourth outbreak. However, the rate of Vietnam's population infected with SARS-CoV-2 is still lower than other countries in the region and the world, ranking in 155th position in the world.

The country logged total 328,323 COVID-19 infections in 52 provinces and cities in September, an increase of 3.9% compared to August. However, in the past seven days, the number of new cases has dropped below 10,000 per day, especially on October 2 and 3 (5,477 and 5,367). Up to now, the epidemic situation has been basically controlled nationwide. In the epicentres of Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An, the rates of infection and death have fallen sharply. In addition, social security and people’s lives in the areas applying social distancing have been ensured and social order and safety have been maintained.

The fourth outbreak in Vietnam originated from imported cases carrying the Delta variant. Following two weeks, the new variant spread to 26 provinces and cities and violently broke out in Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and several southern provinces. Some provinces and cities controlled the epidemic such as Vinh Phuc where cases with the Delta variant and complicated epidemiology were found. The province controlled the epidemic in just one month with 234 infections and three deaths.

In Bac Giang and Bac Ninh, the epidemic broke out mainly in industrial zones and gradually spread widely into the community. After nearly three months, the two localities returned to a new normal although new infections continued to be detected but were under control. Since mid-June, Da Nang has recorded over 5,000 fatalities and 70 deaths related to COVID-19. Also following nearly three months, the pandemic was controlled in the central city.

Binh Duong is the province with the highest number of infections per 100,000 population but a low mortality rate (0.95%) thanks to the direction of early access to treatment. Meanwhile, Ho Chi Minh City has had the highest number of infections (nearly 400,000) and deaths. However, these figures are on track to decrease.

Along with measures to prevent and control the spread of the epidemic, treatment has also been strengthened. Many intensive care centres were established in Ho Chi Minh City and southern provinces to receive and treat severe COVID-19 patients. Since the appearance of the pandemic, experts have continuously updated experiences and treatment practices from other countries around the world to search for and transfer technology as well as experiment and add new drugs to the treatment regimen.

In the latest update on September 21, the Ministry of Health officially released regulations on monoclonal antibodies and antiviral drugs in the treatment for COVID-19 patients. The antiviral drugs Remdesivir and Molnupiravir are being used in the treatment for COVID-19 with different indications. Accordingly, Remdesivir was added to the treatment regimen for patients with moderate to severe symptoms by injection and infusion at medical facilities. Meanwhile, Molnupiravir is a free oral antiviral treatment. Since late August, the drug has been used for people with mild symptoms in a controlled manner.

The number of infections has decreased sharply since the second half of August.

In the past few days, the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 has been many times higher than the number of new cases. By October 3, the number of recoveries reached 693,797, accounting for 85% of total infections. According to the report on the COVID-19 management system of the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment under the Ministry of Health, 6,498 serious patients are still being treated; and the average number of deaths recorded in the past seven days was 155 per day.

The total number of deaths from COVID-19 in Vietnam is 19,175, accounting for 2.5% of the total number of infections. Vietnam ranks 34th among 223 countries and territories in the world in terms of deaths and ranks 30th among 49 countries and territories in Asia. It can be said that Vietnam has a very high rate of deaths compared to other countries in the region during July and August but this figure has decreased sharply since the second half of August thanks to strict social distancing and early treatment.

Despite the slow start, the proportion of people having received at least one dose of a vaccine in Vietnam has increased rapidly. So far, the Health Ministry has licensed eight vaccines to protect against COVID-19 and they all are available in Vietnam. The total number of vaccines from purchase contracts, aid and sponsorship agreements in 2021 reached 189.9 million doses. Up to now, the country has received over 61 million from various sources (trade, the COVAX Facility and donations from foreign countries). Over 56 million doses have been allocated to localities and units.

Localities have been speeding up vaccination. According to updates from the COVID-19 Immunisation Portal, by the end of October 2, nearly 45.2 million people were injected with vaccines against COVID-19, including over 10 million second shots having been administered. Particularly in Hanoi and Ho Chi minh City, more than 90% of people aged 18 years and older have been vaccinated with at least one dose. It is expected that from now until the end of the year, an additional 54 million doses of vaccines will be imported. The experience from many countries shows that despite the number of infections increasing again after the social distancing rules were relaxed into a new normal, vaccination with two full doses will help decrease the rate of hospitalisation and deaths.

After controlling the epidemic, localities have partly eased social distancing. By October 1, all 23 provinces and cities that had applied the Directive No.16/CT-TTg had loosened social distancing rules. Specifically, Ho Chi Minh City eased the distancing and implemented Directive No.18/CT-UBND issued by the municipal People’s Committee on September 30; 11 provinces and cities decided to apply Directives No.16, 15 and 19; eight provinces and cities implemented Directive No.15 instead of Directive No.16 in the whole locality; and three provinces and cities applied Directive No.19 instead of Directive No.16. For the 40 remaining localities, 18 provinces have lifted all blockades; 18 others have applied Directives No.16, 15 and 19 in different zones; another was put under Directive No.15; and one has no blockade areas.

According to the Ministry of Health, the developments of COVID-19 pandemic have been basically controlled; however, there are still potential risks of outbreaks in the community. therefore, localities should absolutely not be subjective as well as continue to implement measures to prevent and control the epidemic.

Notably, the tasks and solutions needed in the new stage are being developed on the basis of the requirement to shift the strategy to “safe and flexible adaptation to and effective control of COVID-19 pandemic” from October 2021, towards preventing and controlling the epidemic effectively while boosting socio-economic recovery and development. It is crucial to continue to carry out the principles: 5K + vaccines; treatment drugs + technology + people’s awareness.

Trung Hieu
Translated by NDO