The acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first detected in China’s Wuhan city in early December 2019. It has spread to many cities across China as well as 26 countries and territories outside mainland China.
The Ministry of Health recognised the risk of an outbreak when the disease was developing complicatedly in China and spreading to many countries and territories worldwide.
On February 1, 2020, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed Decision No.173/QD-TTg announcing the acute respiratory epidemic caused the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
According to the Ministry of Health, coronavirus is a strain of virus that can cause respiratory and digestive diseases in humans and some animals. The disease normally occurs in winter and early spring.
In humans, coronavirus can cause mild illness from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A new strain of the corona family (2019-nCoV) has not been previously identified in humans.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that China’s Wuhan city reported the first cases of the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus on December 12, 2019. As 16:00 on February 1, 2020, the number of global infections exceeded 12,000, including 259 deaths. Twenty-six countries and territories worldwide confirmed infection cases.
First patients in Vietnam
On January 23, 2020, Vietnam recorded the first two imported cases from China’s Wuhan. The first patient is a man born in 1954, travelling from Wuhan to Hanoi on January 13, then Nha Trang on January 17, Ho Chi Minh City on January 19, and Long An on January 20. He had a fever and visited Binh Chanh Hospital on January 22, then was transferred to Cho Ray Hospital.
The second patient is his son, born in 1992, who had stayed in the Mekong Delta province of Long An for four months and had close contact with his father in Nha Trang resort city in the south-central coastal province of Khanh Hoa from January 17. On January 20, he had a fever and was hospitalised at Cho Ray Hospital on the same day with his father. On January 23, the initial test result of the Ho Chi Minh City Pasteur Institute showed that both were positive for the virus.
Right on January 24 morning (the 30th day of the traditional Lunar New Year), the Ministry of Health convened a meeting with the national steering committee for coronavirus prevention and control led by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam to evaluate the situation and agreed on measures to cope with the epidemic in Vietnam in the time to come.
Statistics showed that as of February 1, 2020, Vietnam confirmed six 2019-nCoV cases, including the two Chinese people (one recovered), three Vietnamese citizens returning from Wuhan, and one Vietnamese receptionist having close contact with the Chinese patients.
Stay calm to protect public heath
Vietnam has a high risk of disease outbreaks due to a long border line shared with China and a large number of Vietnamese travelling to and working in China and vice versa.
Amid the complicated developments of the disease at home and abroad, on January 27 (the third day of the traditional Lunar New Year), Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc presided over a meeting on the epidemic.
He emphasised that the protection of public heath is the most important, and asked relevant agencies to discuss specific measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
The PM urged the whole political system at the 63 cities and provinces nationwide to get involved in the fight against the virus “like fighting an enemy”.
“The Government accepts to protect the lives and health of people at the expense of economic gains,” he said, requesting strict supervision at international border gates by air, water and roads.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chaired a Government’s meeting on January 30 to implement tasks after the traditional Lunar New Year and to prevent the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (Photo: Thong Nhat/VNA)
The PM asked ministries and localities to not lower guard but take all possible measures to protect the health of the people, prevent the spread of the virus, and minimise fatality.
On January 28, the Government leader signed to issue Decree No.5/CT-TTg on preventing the epidemic.
On January 30, he chaired a meeting with permanent Government members to implement tasks after the traditional Lunar New Year and prevent the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The leader asked the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control to take drastic measures to push back the disease.
He welcomed the establishment of 45 rapid response teams and connection among 21 hospitals to cope with the disease, and ordered the ban of the travelling by residents in border trails and the suspension of tourism activities between Vietnam and epidemic-hit areas, as well as the strict application of health monitor at border gates.
Public panic avoided
On January 2, the Ministry of Health announced the disease in the south-central coastal province of Khanh Hoa. Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Long advised the people to stay calm amidst the disease and called on the press agencies and the people to refute false information relating to the disease so as to not cause public panic.
Localities should focus on closely monitoring the people having close contact with the patients returning from China, he said.
On February 1, the Ministry of Health directed the local health departments to implement effectively “four on-site” motto: on-site leadership, on-site forces, on-site resources, and on-site logistics./.