On the afternoon of March 24, the Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control and Economic Recovery of Ho Chi Minh City held a press conference to provide information on the epidemic situation in the city and issues of public interest chaired by Deputy Head of the Steering Committee Pham Duc Hai.
Experts proposed that during this time, Vietnam continues to closely coordinate with the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as other international and national organizations to monitor the situation of the Covid-19 epidemic and update the mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus so that Covid-19 can be considered an endemic disease at an appropriate time, said Ms. Mai.
Answering a question about whether Ho Chi Minh City has achieved herd immunity and considers Covid-19 as a common disease, Ms. Nguyen Thi Huynh Mai said that after the Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health had discussed with domestic experts, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical staff concluded that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been recorded in all areas of the country.
Along with that, the incidence of Covid-19 is not stable and there is a huge difference between localities, especially between provinces and cities that had a high incidence before, and those provinces and cities with a high number of new cases and a sharp increase in recent times. In addition, the number of deaths per day is still very high compared to other infectious diseases with the top mortality rates in the past.
Moreover, the SARS-CoV-2 virus constantly mutates and records new variants such as Alpha, Delta, Omicron; Worse, even in these variants, there are also continuously appearing sub-variants that can avoid immunity causing reinfection; therefore, it is difficult to determine its stability.
Speaking at the press conference, Mr. Pham Duc Hai said that as of 6 pm on March 23, Ho Chi Minh City recorded 587,909 cases of Covid-19 announced by the Ministry of Health, including 586,951 cases in the community and 958 people from foreign countries entering Vietnam.
Currently, around 4,274 patients are being in infirmaries including 275 children under 16 years old, 84 critically ill patients on ventilators, five patients supported with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). On March 23, there were 566 hospitalizations, 697 recoveries, and two Covid-19 related deaths.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Huynh Mai said that after assessing the situation of the number of infections in the city, the number of severe cases, deaths, and hospitalizations, the Department of Health proposed the People's Committee to allow close contacts (F1) who are exposed to people positive for SARS-CoV-2 virus to go to work or attend schools but they must apply preventative measures. Presently, under the direction of the Ministry of Health, Covid-19 patients are still isolated for medical treatment at home and at the hospital.
Head of Ideological Politics Division under Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training Trinh Duy Trong said that currently, the City People's Committee has just issued a document guiding health measures for close contacts. Accordingly, these people who are vaccinated with full dose or contracted Covid-19 within three months can work and study directly at educational institutions; however, they must strictly implement epidemic prevention measures.
The Department of Education and Training has immediately issued a document requesting educational institutions to strictly implement epidemic prevention measures. Education departments of districts should pay visits to educational institutions to inspect how schools carry out the regulation for teachers' and students’ safety.
Under the guidance of the City People's Committee, when Covid-19 patients are determined, educational institutions will list them to provide epidemiological information to healthcare facilities. The health sector and schools will determine close contacts of Covid patients.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an epidemic occurs when the number of cases of a disease increases, often suddenly, above what is usually expected.
The WHO declares a disease a pandemic when its growth is exponential and it is spreading globally.