Increased risk of COVID-19 outbreak in southwestern region: health minister

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Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long (first, right) checks COVID-19 prevention and control task at Hà Tiên international border gate area in Mekong Delta Kiên Giang Province on April 18. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Đạt

Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long talks to Báo điện tử Chính phủ (the online newspaper of the Government) about measures to prevent illegal migrants entering the country amid the complex developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and high risks of infection in the southwestern region

Could you explain the COVID-19 situation in the southwestern border area?

The COVID-19 pandemic has developed in a complex manner in Cambodia. The number of new infections has reduced in recent days but still registered three-digit numbers. Therefore, there is a high risk for the pandemic to spread to the southwestern region of Việt Nam from Cambodia, Thailand and some other areas.

We have recently discovered many people positive for the SARS-CoV2 virus, including those who entered the country legally and illegally. There was a case where 10 out of 11 people who returned Việt Nam from abroad tested positive for the virus.

The Ministry of Health has established five teams, led by deputy ministers of health, to check COVID-19 prevention and control tasks in 13 cities and provinces in the southwestern region. Two teams that have arrived in the region are reviewing all issues relating to COVID-19 prevention and control.

The National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control and the Ministry of Health put a high alert for COVID-19 infection in the southwestern region.

Which measures does the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control have in response to the situation in the southwestern region?

The Government, the Prime Minister, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control and the Ministry of Health have provided guidance to deal with the situation and many measures have proved effective.

Firstly, to prevent illegal migration into this region, all forces, including border guards and police, are assigned to be on duty at control stations to better manage migration activities. Localities have increased patrols and supervision over migration activities along coastal areas which have seen complex developments in illegal migration. Localities have also mobilised people to join the fight against COVID-19 and reported to local authorities about illegal migrants.

Secondly, we have asked all localities to increase testing, monitoring and screening of all people and areas at high risk of COVID-19 infection to detect new cases in a timely manner to have effective prevention and control measures.

Thirdly, all localities must prepare for situations in which the COVID-19 pandemic becomes more complicated. They must prepare to increase testing capacity, quarantine capacity and large-scale quarantine capacity and short-term quarantine for suspected cases or those with close contacts with COVID-19 patients. Other measures have also been raised such as building hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients in case of complex developments.

We always view all border localities such as Tây Ninh, Kiên Giang and An Giang as “hot” areas in the current context of COVID-19. The Ministry of Health has urged Kiên Giang Province to build a field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients. — VNS

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