Vietnam works closely with WHO, US CDC to deal with Omicron threat

Vietnam is working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) in its response to new coronavirus variant Omicron, according to Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long.

The Ministry of Health on November 30 held a meeting on the threats of the very concerning variant with WHO Representative in Vietnam Kidong Park, CDC Southeast Asia Regional Director John MacArthur, and Director of US CDC Vietnam’s Global Health Security Programme Matthew Moore.

Long said as of November 30 morning, Vietnam has not recorded any case of COVID-19 with the new variant.

The ministry last week asked the government to halt flights to/from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Mozambique, as well as suspend the issuance of visas for passengers coming from these countries.

The ministry has also asked to step up surveillance to promptly detect abnormal signs at COVID-19 outbreak clusters, and ordered the Pasteur institutes and the National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology to perform genome sequencing on suspect cases with Omicron, especially ones with a history of travel to southern Africa.

The WHO and CDC representatives all stressed the four important steps in dealing with Omicron, including enhancing testing and surveillance to detect the cases, speeding up vaccination, boosting the capacity of the medical system – especially at the grassroots level – to make them able to deal with growing outbreaks, and stepping up communication on COVID-19 prevention and control measures and making public the genetic sequences of COVID-19 cases for further analysis by researchers and experts.

At the meeting, leaders of the Health Ministry together with the representatives of WHO, US CDC in Southeast Asia and US CDC in Vietnam agreed to be ready to share the results of the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 cases.

Long said Vietnam to date had administered 120 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and progress had been steady recently, especially with the rollout of vaccines for children aged 12-17 in more than 30 localities around the country.

He also urged the public to follow COVID-19 prevention and control measures but not to panic or become overly anxious in the face of the Omicron variant.

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