The northern province of Vinh Phuc is currently the locality with the highest infections of the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Vietnam, with seven out of the total 12 cases.
The appearance of infection cases in Vinh Phuc province and the fact that people were infected through close contact with patients caused social anxiety.
In an interview with VietnamPlus, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long talked about the epidemic and emergency plans on disease prevention and combat which are carried out nationwide, especially in hotspots.
Reporter: Vinh Phuc is considered as the centre of the epidemic caused by the coronavirus as new transmissions were reported consecutively in the community. Is this an epidemic hotspot?
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long: As Vinh Phuc is likely to record more cases, the Ministry of Health has sent delegations to the province to work with the provincial Party Committee and People’s Committee. We consider it as a epidemic hotspot and has zoned off high-risk areas and made a list of people subjected to home quarantine, who had close contact with the patients.
We also asked the local authorities to conduct one more level of quarantine for people who had close contact with those directly met with the patients, even if the latter were asymptomatic. Extended quarantine is needed to ensure control over the disease.
As far as I know the Secretary of the provincial Party Committee is paying due attention to this issue. Local authorities had held regular meetings to issue timely guidelines. Vinh Phuc has launched all necessary measures in zoning off high-risk areas.
Reporter: Some people held that in China, the disease will reach its peak in the next 7-10 days. What is your opinion on this issue?
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long: We do not have enough data and information about the disease in China, so we cannot give a full assessment. That was the assessment of the Chinese side.
Some experts said that the spread of the disease in China is on the decline amid the increasing number of recoveries.
Reporter: How about in Vietnam? Can we forecast the peak of the disease?
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long: Vietnam will not wait until the peak either in the country or in China to take stringent measures.
The Government, the health sector and relevant agencies have devised policies to ban people from nCoV-hit areas, especially China’s Wuhan city, to enter the country. In addition, citizens returning from regions with nCoV cases, including 31 Chinese localities, must be quarantined at border gates.
In addition, we also have implemented drastic measures to detect high-risk areas and quarantine people.
Vietnam now focuses on handling cases in the country to prevent, quarantine and thoroughly control the disease. It requires the engagement of administrations and Party Committees at all levels in a bid to gain full control of the process.
The Government and the health sector have adopted drastic measures. Centrally-run hospitals have been warned of the worst scenario of the wide spread of the disease.
Reporter: Recently, is there a sign of rising number of cases?
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long: Most of the confirmed cases, (eight cases), are imported ones.
We have promptly zoned off high-risk areas and put people into quarantine, among measures, to control the disease. Regarding the case in south central coastal province of Khanh Hoa, no community transmissions have been reported so far.
For infections in Vinh Phuc, control and quarantine measures have been in place, and we hope that the concerted efforts will help bring the disease under control.
Therefore, at the moment, the disease is not spreading fast in Vietnam as we only recorded a few human-to-human transmissions.
Reporter: Are the cases in Vinh Phuc reported late as they already returned to Vietnam on January 17?
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long: It cannot say that they were discovered late as all were closely monitored and supervised. There are three cases under close watch but they showed no symptoms. All of them just returned from Wuhan city.
Local health authorities have exerted efforts as the province has carried out drastic measures on disease prevention and control.
Reporter: Could you please clarify those measures?
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long: As I have said, tight control and quarantine are in place. The province has launched three-level quarantine and the fourth one is being considered.
The first one is to put all the infected and suspected cases into quarantine at health facilities.
The second is quarantine at home or residences, for Vietnamese and Chinese citizens returning from or transiting in China.
The third is quarantine for people having close contact with the infected (the figure is 158 at present), while people with close contact with them will also be traced, it is the final level.
Reporter: Many people are concerned that the quick spread of 2019-nCoV will result in high death toll like the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). What is your opinion?
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long: 2019-nCoV spreads faster than SARS and it could be transmitted even during the incubation period. Meanwhile, SARS is only communicable when the patients show symptoms.
However, the death rate of 2019-nCoV is much lower than that of SARS, at about 1.8 percent compared to 10.6 percent.
To combat SARS in 2003, many doctors chose to stay at hospitals instead of going home to quarantine themselves from the community and their own families.
The sacrifice is highly appreciated and this time, we are sparing no efforts to bring the disease under control.
Reporter: Thank you so much!./.