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Face masks and community immunity

Recently, I visited a government agency. The security guards, who were not wearing face masks, did not allow me to enter the agency because I did not have a mask.

I had to go to a drugstore nearby and buy a mask for VND5,000. After passing through the check-in gate, I put the mask under my nose, and when I entered the office, I put it in my pocket.

I have always worn face masks when traveling on streets for the last 25 years, to prevent dust. In the last two years of fighting the pandemic, of course, I have been wearing masks in accordance with the regulations of the Ministry of Health (MOH).

On the day when I came to the above agency, my last protective mask unluckily got wet because of the rain, so I gave it up. 

It took me 30 minutes to  purchase the mask and return to the agency. I noticed that many officials of the agency did not wear face masks when they passed through the gate, but the security guards ignored this.

An MOH report shows that as of June 10, 2022, over 223 million vaccine doses had been administered, including 200 million doses for people aged 18 and higher, 17.5 million doses for children aged 12-17 and over 5 million doses for children aged from five to 11.

The ministry reported that there are still 10 million doses unused and the vaccines are at risk of expiration.

In a report to the National Assembly, the government said that by early March, 2022, Vietnam had become one of six countries with the largest vaccine coverage in the world.

“The successful control of the pandemic has consolidated the confidence and peace of mind of people and businesses, creating a basis for economic and social activities returning to normal, making an important contribution to the country's growth,” the report said.

With the successful control of Covid, the question is whether Vietnam has reached herd immunity. The healthcare sector needs to give the answer to the government and people.

The statistics provided by the Government show that Vietnam has obtained herd immunity.

Hanoi underwent Covid-19 a couple of weeks after Tet, though it did not impose a lockdown, and so did HCM City. When my child went back to school in early April, his teacher said 50 out of 60 students in the class reported they were infected with Covid-19. And the majority of people I know said they had contracted Covid once.

I remember the image of tens of thousands of people, including leaders and common people, without face masks, cheered at the victory of the Vietnam’s U23 national squad at SEA Games at My Dinh Stadium in late May. And I believe that those who are reading the article, in the convention room or street, are not wearing masks.

At a recent press conference, a representative of MOH said the ministry proposed the replacement of 5K (Khau trang - face mask, Khu khuan - disinfection - Khoang cach – distance, Khong tu tap - no gathering, Khai bao y te - health declaration) with V2K, which stands for vaccines, plus khau trang (face mask) and khu khuan (disinfection) as the Covid-19 outbreak has been controlled.

At the press conference, the representative from MOH and other officials did not wear face masks.

Over the last two years, people always wore face masks so as to protect themselves, their relatives and observe the law.

Whether face masks can fight coronavirus remains a controversial issue. However, many countries no longer require people to wear masks, even in airplanes and trains.

If wearing face masks is compulsory, this means that people have to pay a fine of VND1-3 million if they don’t wear masks.

Vietnam has opened up to the outside world, while people's lives and business activities have returned to normal. We are trying our best to invite international guests to travel to Vietnam and do business. Wearing face masks should be just a recommendation for people, rather than a must. 

Tu Giang

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