May 22, 2020 / 12:07

Vietnam yet to declare end of Covid-19 after 36 days without community infection

The Hanoitimes - Vietnam should only declare Covid-19 free nationwide when all Covid-19 patients have been cured and there is no longer any risk of infection from overseas.

As of May 22, Vietnam has gone through 36 straight days without Covid-19 infection in the community, but the country's legislation is not clear enough for the government to proclaim the end of the epidemic, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

Since the end of April, the country has reported 56 Covid-19 imported cases, who are Vietnamese citizens returning from overseas.

 A Covid-19 patient who recovered on May 21 sends a greeting from the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases. Photo: BVCC

Vietnam’s Law on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases decrees that an epidemic can be called off if no new cases of infection are detected after a certain period of time and other conditions pertaining to each epidemic prescribed by the prime minister are met.

The period of time applicable to the Covid-19 epidemic is 28 days, from when the last Covid-19 patient is quarantined, according to a decision signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on February 26, 2020.

“However, the current Law on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases does not distinguish between community-acquired and imported infections,” a source from Ministry of Justice told Tuoi Tre.

He added that although Vietnam has controlled the Covid-19 pandemic in the community, the risk of infection remains latent. In the time ahead, overseas Vietnamese will keep returning home. Even though they must undergo quarantine, there is still risk of contagion in isolation centers and in the community.

This creates a grey area concerning the prerequisites for Vietnam to declare the end of the epidemic in the country.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said last week that Vietnam “had gained initial success in realizing the dual target of containing the disease and promoting production and business.”

However, Nguyen Van Kinh, chairman of the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 professional council, warned that Covid-19 positive cases might not be easy to be detected as 40% of Covid-19 patients are asymptomatic carriers.

Therefore, though Vietnam has been able to control Covid-19 in the community, the country has not yet been in condition to declare the end of the pandemic.

Vietnam should only declare Covid-19 free nationwide when all Covid-19 patients have been cured and there is no longer any risk of infection from overseas, Kinh stressed.