Minister addresses measures for Covid-19 prevention and control in new circumstances

June 7, 2021 | 08:30 am GMT+7

It is necessary to have new approaches in fighting Covid-19 as per the PM’s direction – being more proactive, switching from defense to attack, applying technology, and applying rapid and proactive testing and vaccinations at lightning speed.

 We have experienced four Covid outbreaks, with the next bigger than the previous one. And we still follow the same way to cope with the outbreaks, which relies on the political system and human power. The ratio of people put under quarantine to infected cases is among the highest in the world.

The method brings efficiency when the number of cases is small and the epidemic spreads slowly. Meanwhile, the new coronavirus variants are spreading more rapidly. If tens of thousands of infections are found, as many as hundreds of thousands of people would have to be tested and put under quarantine. In this case, the methods won’t be feasible.

Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces have found high numbers of infections and the virus is spreading rapidly. Therefore, it is necessary to have new approaches to cope with the pandemic in accordance with the PM’s instructions.

If considering the outbreak in Bac Ninh and Bac Giang as an opportunity for us to apply new approaches, we are likely to be able to control Covid-19 in the long term and in a more radical way. If so, the scene of people nationwide getting anxious and seeing their lives upset and the economy being seriously affected won’t be repeated in the future.

So, we need to exploit the fourth outbreak, mobilizing the society’s brainpower and resources and creating longer-term, serious policies to find out more radical ways to control the pandemic in the future.

If we can do this, the situation will be better and things won’t come to a standstill, if the fifth or the sixth wave reoccurs. Every time when dealing with one situation, we should think of a long-term solution.

Technological solutions

There are three ‘directions of attack’ that the PM has pointed out – active testing, mandatory use of technology, and vaccinations.

Vietnam has all necessary technological solutions to prevent and control Covid-19, from the control of entries to Vietnam to testing, tracing, quarantining and vaccinations. Electronic vaccine passports can facilitate people’s travel.

More recently, Vietnam has the solution of measuring CO2 concentration and air flow to monitor indoor ventilation. Recent research has found that the combination of protective masks and ventilation in closed rooms can significantly reduce the spread of disease.

On May 29, MIC set up the Technology Center for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, which serves as the focal point in technology application, both developing solutions and operating IT systems to prevent and control Covid-19. The center is under the management of AITA.

IT apps have been centrally connected and data have been shared. This is a significant progress in technology and data application.

The PM has issued a decision assigning the Ministry of Health and MIC to determine which key technologies are compulsory for pandemic prevention and control. This is major progress in taking initiative in fighting the pandemic.

The technological solutions can be used with Covid-19, but also with other epidemics in the future.

The ‘5K plus vaccine’ message has shifted to a ‘5K, vaccine and technology’ message.

Regarding the technology application, there are four prerequisite conditions to ensure success.

First, the application of some key technologies is mandatory. Second, data and data processing need to be concentrated and connected among apps. The more data sources and the bigger data there are, the more quickly and accurately will we be able to discover risks.

Third, software needs to be written as a platform for easy sharing. Fourth, private data should be deleted after one-month use, so that people feel secure when complying with the regulation on providing personal information.

So, to sum up:

1.Sooner. We now can discover infected people via active testing and screening tests.

2.Faster. It is easy to trace infected cases with technology within several hours instead of one week.

3.More accuracy. We can discover those who have close contact with infection cases, thus reducing the number of F1 and F2 that need to be put under quarantine by tens of times.

4.More radical. Each source of disease creates a network of infected people. Many infected people have no symptoms and go undetected, but they still can infect others. The person who is found infected could have been an F1 or F2.

The important thing is that when a person in the network of infected people is detected, there must be a tool that quickly detects the entire network. If we can do this, we will be able to control the situation. Close-contact technology can solve this problem.

5.More normal. With these methods, those who are infected will receive treatment, those who have close contact will be isolated, and the rest will still go to work and live their daily lives with the 5K principle.

When the epidemic subsides, technology will continue to serve as the night watchman to help prevent epidemics. Even if more epidemics come, it won’t be too hard. Technology application is the best way to prevent epidemics today. To be able to live and work normally, every citizen needs to use technology.

6. Vaccination is a long term solution.

Regarding the communication orientation, to prevent confusing information, MIC will drive the communication focus on the responsibilities of each individual and each organization to make everyone understand that the best way to protect the community is to protect themselves and their own units; on the new solutions, new approaches, new ways of doing things; on the improvement of testing and medical capacity; on the speeding up of the vaccine purchase; on the donation to the vaccine fund to fight against Covid-19; on mandatory technologies and home quarantine; on production and business reorganization, and on safe living.

We need to talk about the fact that although the number of cases has increased, we are controlling the situation; about the efforts of the government; about the promotion of e-commerce to help people sell farm produce.

These all will help consolidate people’s confidence in the fight against Covid-19, reinforce the belief that the world will control the pandemic because the largest epidemic centers in the world are declining and some countries that have successfully controlled Covid are coming back to normal life.

Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung