Vietnam mulls over one-week quarantine for vaccinated entrants
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|Passengers line up at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat Airport for coronavirus control measures. (Photo: VNE)|
People entering Vietnam who have been immunized against coronavirus and tested negative can possibly have their quarantine time shortened from three to one week, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at the meeting Wednesday afternoon.
These entrants would have to undergo another 7 days of self-isolation at their accommodation after finishing centralized quarantine and tested negative three times, as per the policy earlier proposed by the Department of Preventive Medicine in mid-May.
At the meeting, the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control tasked the Ministry of Health with urgent issuance of new testing procedures for the aforementioned entrant group. Technology groups were encouraged to work together for effective testing methods and equipment, as “taking samples for large-scale screening is very costly and daunting,” Dam said.
|Medical workers check the temperatures of people arriving from overseas at Tan Son Nhat Airport before Vietnam closed borders, March 17, 2020. (Photo: VNE)|
Experts agree that vaccines need to be rolled out as soon as possible, especially before this October. Vietnam is aiming at purchasing 150 million doses by late 2021 to cover 70% of its population. Its nationwide vaccine rollout since March 8 with the British-Sweden AstraZeneca vaccine, prioritizing frontline workers, has now inoculated over 1.1 million recipients, accounting for 1% of the population.
The health ministry pledged it would create all favorable conditions to facilitate the import of Covid-19 vaccines. Plans to properly regulate vaccine sources will soon be drawn up.
Vietnam earlier stipulated all entrants and those having close contact with Covid-19 patients (F1 cases) must undergo a 14-day-long centralized quarantine. If test results later came out negative three times, inmates will be discharged and placed under health monitoring at home in the next 14 days.
Since May 5, the health ministry has decided to extend the mandatory centralized quarantine to 21 days for all entrants and F1 cases after several patients only revealed themselves after their quarantine period had already ended.
|People line up at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat Airport for Covid-19 testing, May 6, 2021. (Photo: VNE)|
In March, medical experts said Vietnam should test out “vaccine passports” on certain groups of entrants.
"It could first be applied to certain countries and regions with high vaccination rates and that already have policies regarding vaccine passports," said Nguyen Viet Nhung, director of the National Lung Hospital.
Recent research revealed those who have received two Covid-19 vaccine shots have a minimal chance of becoming an infection source, said Nhung. As such, vaccinated people could be considered "safe" from a scientific standpoint, meaning Vietnam could now design a framework to approve "vaccine passports."
However, as no Covid-19 vaccine enjoys 100 percent efficacy, mostly ranging from 60 to 90 percent, new variants could be resistant to current inoculations and pose "a small risk," he said.
Nhung proposed a vaccine passport framework drawn up by Vietnam should include mandatory Covid-19 testing for entrants.
The ministry has struck commercial deals for 30 million doses and will get 38.9 million doses through Covax.
It has registered to buy another 10 million doses through Covax under a cost-sharing scheme to benefit from lower prices, according to VNE.
It has also inked a deal to buy 31 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine this year.
Four vaccines are under development in the country: Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1, and Polyvac.
On May 26, the government approved the establishment of a Covid-19 vaccine fund to raise contributions from various sources and ease the burden on its resources. The fund would accept contributions in the form of cash and vaccines from benefactors in Vietnam and abroad.
It will be audited by the State Audit Office of Vietnam and the Vietnam Fatherland Front, an umbrella organization of all political and social groups in the country.
|Vietnam is in the grip of the fourth Covid-19 outbreak which started on April 27. Since then, 4,956 have been reported across 37 provinces and cities, claiming 13 lives. The two northern provinces Bac Giang and Bac Ninh are the hardest-hit, with 2,678 and 951 cases respectively. Record new infections have continuously documented every day, most are linked to clusters at industrial parks.|
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The scheme will likely help ease the burden at quarantine centers and reduce cross-infection risk.
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