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Vietnam to shift away from ‘Zero Covid’ strategy: PM

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Prime Minister Pham Minh Chính chairing the national meeting on Covid-19 response on Saturday night (Sept 25, 2021). VIET NAM NEWS

Vietnam to shift away from ‘Zero Covid’ strategy: PM

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control has agreed to change the strategy policy from “Zero Covid” to “Safe and flexible adaptation and effective control of the Covid-19 pandemic”, striving to bring the country back to a new normal by the end of this month.

He made the statement at the committee’s meeting on September 25, held to review the leadership, direction, implementation of measures to prevent and control the pandemic in the past; analysing results, limitations, causes in pandemic prevention and control.

Speaking at the online meeting between the committee and officials from 10,400 communes, wards and townships, 705 districts, and 63 cities and provinces nationwide, Chinh noted that so far, Covid-19 has been gradually controlled in the majority of localities, but complicated developments continue.

A report from the committee at the meeting said that, from the beginning of the fourth wave of the pandemic to September 24, the whole country recorded 734,000 cases, while 503,000 people have recovered (69 per cent), and more than 18,000 deaths were reported.

Last week there were 72,236 new cases, down 9.7 per cent compared to the previous week and the number of deaths in the week decreased by 12.1 per cent compared to the previous week. Currently, there are 16 out of 63 provinces and cities that have gone 14 days without any new infections.

In 23 localities implementing social distancing measures, the pandemic situation is gradually being controlled; the number of cases in the last seven days decreased by 9.8 per cent compared to the same previous period.

Regarding vaccinations, as of September 24, the whole country had administered 37.6 million doses, with more than 30 million people receiving first shots and 7.5 million people getting two shots, while about 14 million more vaccine doses will continue to be administered.

At the meeting, leaders of ministries, sectors and localities shared their experiences in pandemic prevention and control, especially in directing, organising, coordinating and implementing social distancing, screening, rapid testing, F0 classification, care and treatment.

They also discussed the temporary plan for “Safely and flexibly adaptation and effective control of the Covid-19 pandemic” in the spirit of striving to implement pandemic control and socio-economic development at the same time.

While lauding localities’ efforts in the pandemic fight, the prime minister also pointed to shortcomings in the field, including the ineffective implementation of directions in some localities, particularly at grassroots level, slow testing progress and inefficiency in conducting support policies for pandemic-hit groups.

Chinh noted that localities should not stay relaxed and be negligent when the pandemic is just controlled at a very basic level, and they must be consistent and persistent in leadership and direction, but apply anti-pandemic measures flexibly based on specific condition of each locality.

He asked localities to strengthen decentralisation in pandemic prevention and control activities, with communes, wards and townships as “fortresses” and people as “warriors” in the fight. They should speed up vaccinations, especially targeting those in high-risk areas, he said.

Chinh also urged ministries, sectors and localities to quickly design measures to restore production while continuing to ensure safety.

He assigned the Ministry of Health to gather ideas and build criteria on safely, flexibly adapting to and effectively controlling Covid-19, along with detailed guidelines on its implementation.

Ministries, sectors and localities should immediately set up their task forces for socio-economic recovery and development headed by their top leaders, and build plans for economic recovery in accordance with their own situation, the government leader requested.

He also asked for the revision of regulations on entry-exit control, giving optimal conditions for foreign experts to enter the country to work.

It is necessary to study regulations on the recognition of “vaccine passports”, he stressed.

Chinh assigned the Ministry of Education and Training and the Ministry of Information and Communications to coordinate with localities to ensure telecoms services and computers for students studying online. The information ministry was requested to quickly develop an app used for all Covid-19 prevention and control activities.

The prime minister also underlined the need for ministries, sectors and localities to give timely and effective support to pandemic-hit groups in a transparent manner, honouring individuals and organisations with outstanding contributions in pandemic prevention and control, and strictly handling violations.

Earlier in a meeting on September 23, Chinh stressed that instructions for fighting the pandemic in the future should go in tandem with inspection and supervision, and reiterated the principles that health care plays the central role; economy serves as the foundation; data, science and technology are the key; political and social stability is essential; and vaccines, treatment drugs and public awareness are the prerequisites.

VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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