Nov 25, 2020 / 15:59

Vietnam health minister calls for tighter coronavirus control

Vietnam's health ministry has ordered that frozen food shipped from pandemic-hit countries must undergo Covid-19 testing since the coronavirus can survive for a long time.

Vietnam's Ministry of Health has urged local governments to carefully screen tourists and locals to prevent a new coronavirus wave as the country is at extremely high risk of imported Covid-19 transmissions.

At a teleconference on Covid-19 prevention and control on November 24, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said that Covid-19 testing should be accelerated as the pandemic evolution remains tense around the world.

 Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long speaks at the conference on November 24. Photo: Tuan Dung

Vietnam has stayed free of community transmissions of the disease for 83 straight days, the health minister said. However, coronavirus-infected people are still arriving in Vietnam on flights.

Mr. Long cited statistics that Vietnam had 5,000 people entering and leaving the country on November 23. Among them, 77 illegal entries were caught.

The minister added that although the Ministry of Health has issued a number of guidelines for quarantine sites, the lack of vigilance has been reported at several establishments, especially hotels and other civil accommodation facilities.

He stressed local authorities’ role in ensuring strict management of quarantine sites, asking them to gear up preparation for the possible appearance of Covid-19 cases in the community.

Noting transmission risks at medical establishments, the minister said some hospitals, especially private ones, are still off guard.

Mr. Long stressed that his ministry has continually requested that tests should be increased. Only 4,000 samples are analyzed per day currently, which has almost doubled the figure in July, but it is still very low compared to the number of people with flu and pneumonia symptoms.

If the testing speed is not accelerated, Covid-19 infection cases could be missed, he noted, adding that the faster the tests are conducted, the sooner new cases are detected and the transmission is curbed.

The minister also emphasized the need to monitor imported food. The ministry has ordered that frozen food shipped from pandemic-hit countries undergo Covid-19 testing since the coronavirus can survive for a long time.

For his part, Maj. Gen. Nguyen Duc Manh, deputy commander of the Border Guards, said since the beginning of this year, the force has kept patrolling more than 6,000 border paths and crossings, handling entry procedures for over 2.7 million people and recording more than 20,000 cases of illegal entry.

The Covid-19 tally in Vietnam currently stands at 1,316, including 691 locally infected cases. As many as 1,153 patients have recovered from the disease while the death toll stays at 35.