Jul 01, 2020 / 11:39

WHO warns Vietnam of sober prudence in reopening borders

The Hanoitimes - Reopening borders might pose risks amid the global pandemic uncertainty.

A representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Vietnam needs to contemplate the reopening of its borders thoroughly as the coronavirus pandemic is still expanding globally.

Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative to Vietnam, (4th from left) at the meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam. Photo: VGP  

Allowing the foreign entry has been included in Vietnam’s plans for the economic recovery but careful consideration must be taken given uncertainty in the coronavirus outbreaks, WHO Representative to Vietnam Kidong Park said at a meeting of the National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and Control in Hanoi on June 30.

Given the impacts of the global health crisis, WHO had a meeting two months ago to discuss the possibility of reopening borders and resuming international flights, Kidong Park informed.

To go for reopening borders, any country needs to consider if (1) the disease has been under control in both directions: inbound and outbound flights, (2) the healthcare system is capable of coping with an increase in the number of infections after reopening the border and resuming international flights, (3) and the medical surveillance system is capable of detecting, tracking, and managing imported cases.

After that meeting, WHO's technical group has built a set of guidelines for reopening the borders and resuming international air routes. The guidance is based on the capacity of the surveillance system at border gates with priority given to only essential travel.

At June 30 meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, other international experts also warned that countries should be cautious about reopening their borders or resuming international air services as very few countries in the world have put the pandemic under control with no local transmission for 30 consecutive days.

Instead, they recommended that countries should maximize investment in the healthcare system to increase its preparedness to cope with the worst-case scenario while discussing with partner countries the possibility of reopening the borders or reconnecting international flights.

They advised Vietnam’s health ministry to further improve its testing capacity, considering this key to preventing the epidemic, and enhance communication campaigns to equip residents with necessary knowledge.

Regarding vaccine production, Mr. Park said there has been a vaccine research alliance that wants Vietnam to join the research and production. It would be one of the important factors to enable locals to get vaccinated soon, around the end of 2021.

According to to Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, Vietnam has been able to produce test kits for the novel coronavirus, made-in-Vietnam ventilators (which have been exported to a number of countries). The country is making efforts to research and produce vaccine against Covid-19.

Made-in-Vietnam vaccine has been tested on mice and will be tested on primates, and human beings, Long added.

As of June 30, Vietnam has confirmed 355 cases, including 335 recovered, and zero deaths. The country has undergone 76 days without local transmission.