Businesses say Health Ministry's guidance on ‘living together with pandemic’ is inflexible

The draft document that guides how to adapt to Covid-19 safely strives for ‘zero Covid’ goal, not ‘living together with the pandemic’, the business community says.

Businesses say Health Ministry's guidance on ‘living together with pandemic’ is inflexible

Representatives of eight associations of enterprises in key industries in the economy have sent a petition to the Prime Minister, suggesting opinions to the Ministry of Health's (MOH) draft guidance on adapting to Covid-19 safely.

Businesses commented that the five criteria set by MOH are clear and scientific for assessing risk levels. However, the draft only gives general guidance, and doesn’t take into account the differences of the regions in the country. Therefore, the criteria are not flexible enough. Meanwhile, some tentative regulations aim at ‘zero covid’, not ‘living together with Covid’.

According to the associations, the draft sets very tight control on pandemic zones and requires too much testing even when people are fully vaccinated, which is not necessary.

If referring to the criterion about vaccination in the draft (more than 80 percent of people aged over 50 are fully vaccinated), HCM City is still far from reaching the fourth level (2-3 more months).

This will seriously affect business development because even fully vaccinated people cannot return to work.

Moreover, associations believe that the restrictions in travel and participation in economic activities and traffic, applied to fully vaccinated people and recovered Covid cases, are not necessary.

Therefore, it would be better to use the rate and consider the occupancy rate of hospital beds and ICU beds to make reasonable adjustments (WHO’s guidance released on June 14 shows different levels, but has not been considered in the draft) to make reasonable adjustments.

Meanwhile, it would be dangerous if applying the criteria for Level 1 (new normal) immediately to areas which have controlled the outbreak well.

The draft says a region would be listed as low-risk if it has 20 or smaller newly infected cases per 100,000 people a week. But the vaccination rate is still low in the localities.

The draft regulation is unreasonable if considering the current pandemic control capability.

There should be a specific strategy for a transitional period which lasts 3-5 months for the cities/provinces/zones which are controlling the outbreak well. The control needs reducing isolation areas before full reopening as well as sufficient vaccination coverage.

Hanoi has 8 million people, and 20 cases per 100,000 people means 230 cases a day. During the fourth outbreak, Hanoi had 50-70 cases a day and the situation was so serious that municipal authorities had to impose social distancing lasting two months, from July 24 to September 21 to be able reduce the daily cases to below 20.

If Hanoi only imposes social distancing when there are 230 new cases a day, it is highly possible that it would fall into a serious situation like HCM City (over 1,000 cases a day and not imposing social distancing until July 24).

 

The associations believe that there should be a specific strategy for a transitional period which lasts 3-5 months for the cities/provinces/zones which are controlling the outbreak well. The control needs reducing isolation areas before full reopening as well as sufficient vaccination coverage.

The associations also point out that the draft still cannot guarantee the reduction of mortality rate because of the lack of the criterion on hospital beds and ICU beds for cases that need intensive care.

The bed occupancy rate should be set as an important index to assess the pandemic situation. Once people are fully vaccinated, it will be no longer necessary to count the number of cases, but it will be necessary to count the bed occupancy rate. Asymptomatic infections or infections with mild symptoms will treat themselves at home.

Transitional steps needed

The associations have suggested applying two strategies to control and pandemic and recover the economy.

There should be a strategy for the transitional period (from now to early the first quarter of 2022). The zones which have large vaccination coverage will reopen earlier. A transitional period will be necessary to prepare to live together with virus. Zones will be classified into two groups which would have reasonable treatment:

Zone 1: areas hit by pandemic, under Directive 16. Allowing fully vaccinated people and recovered Covid patients to resume work. Adjusting social distancing measures to fit the risk levels, bed occupancy rate and vaccination rate. There should be guidance for enterprises to handle their positive cases. Do not close production workshops if positive cases are found.

Zone 2: areas where the virus spreads slowly, or there is no positive case. If there are 0.7 new cases per 100,000 people per day for one week, it will be necessary to raise the alarm level, but no need for large-scale isolation.

Consider a curfew in communes and wards with high numbers of positive cases. Stop non-essential activities in residential areas neighboring pandemic areas or areas with high epidemiological risks.

The areas fully vaccinated will switch to ‘new normal’ and all isolation measures will be removed.

The period of ‘living together with virus’ (from mid-Q1 2022): full reopening will be implemented when more than 70 percent of people aged 18 and above are vaccinated. 

Tran Chung - Luong Bang

HCM City wants to have its own regulations to reopen the economy

HCM City wants to have its own regulations to reopen the economy

With specific conditions, Ho Chi Minh City has asked for the Prime Minister’s permission to apply special regulations to reopen the economy.

Roadmap to 'new normal' state to be issued before September 15

Roadmap to 'new normal' state to be issued before September 15

The Ministry of Health is working on guidance on the roadmap to return to the "new normal" and reopen the economy, scheduled to be issued by September 15.

 
 

Other News

.
HCM City needs help to rise up after the pandemic
HCM City needs help to rise up after the pandemic
FEATUREicon  27/09/2021 

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ho Chi Minh City and five provinces in the Southeast region will likely have negative growth in 2021.

The turning point in history of Vietnam television films
The turning point in history of Vietnam television films
FEATUREicon  27/09/2021 

People in Iran in 2003 planned their meal times to avoid clashing with the showtimes of Korean film “Dea Jang Geum”. The same thing occurred in Vietnam when everything changed upon the release of “Ve nha di con” (Come home, my dear).

Quarantine services: gold mine for golf tourism
Quarantine services: gold mine for golf tourism
FEATUREicon  27/09/2021 

In early 2021, 59 foreign tourists arrived in Phuket province in southern Thailand and were quarantined at a luxury hotel for 14 days. This is one of the first groups of international tourists to Thailand under the "resort quarantine" program.

Vietnamese tycoons compete with foreign corporations
Vietnamese tycoons compete with foreign corporations
FEATUREicon  27/09/2021 

Vietnamese corporations have asserted their position and strength after many large acquisition deals. Big names are confident about holding onto the domestic market, even knocking out foreign retail giants.

The infants born in the final Covid-19 treatment section
The infants born in the final Covid-19 treatment section
FEATUREicon  26/09/2021 

K1, Hung Vuong Hospital in HCM City, is a special sector where pregnant women who have severe and critical Covid-19 infections are treated. 

VN enterprises can't produce because of lack of materials, parts
VN enterprises can't produce because of lack of materials, parts
FEATUREicon  26/09/2021 

A fish sauce plant using millions of tons of fish has had to close because it cannot buy stopples to bottle products.

Banks offer to sell consumer debts of only hundreds of thousand of VND
Banks offer to sell consumer debts of only hundreds of thousand of VND
FEATUREicon  26/09/2021 

Banks have put on sale consumer debts with no collateral with very small value. One of the debts has the value of VND483,000, including principal, interest and fine.

The digital economy in the new normal
The digital economy in the new normal
FEATUREicon  26/09/2021 

Vietnam’s e-commerce has been growing rapidly, and when the pandemic is over, the e-commerce market is expected to be even more robust.

Seafood exports plummet under social distancing regulations
Seafood exports plummet under social distancing regulations
FEATUREicon  26/09/2021 

The lack of input materials and workers, the increase in production costs, and failure to fulfill orders of partners all have pushed seafood companies into a deadlock. Seafood exports have plummeted.

A code of conduct for artists
A code of conduct for artists
FEATUREicon  25/09/2021 

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is finalizing the draft code of conduct for Vietnamese artists.

Investment in charging stations needed for electric car industry
Investment in charging stations needed for electric car industry
FEATUREicon  25/09/2021 

Experts believe that electrified vehicles will be a trend in the world’s automobile industry, including Vietnam.

Hanoi isolation and vaccination strategy helped curb spread of Covid-19
Hanoi isolation and vaccination strategy helped curb spread of Covid-19
FEATUREicon  24/09/2021 

Hanoi's strategy of quickly isolating areas where positive cases were found and carrying out testing campaigns at "lightening speed" helped prevent the spread of the virus.

Foreign investors in Vietnam and the “win-win” situation
Foreign investors in Vietnam and the “win-win” situation
FEATUREicon  24/09/2021 

Despite the impact of the pandemic in recent months, business results of FDI enterprises in Vietnam in the past eight months show a promising picture.

Real estate market waits for amended Investment Law
Real estate market waits for amended Investment Law
FEATUREicon  24/09/2021 

The amended 2020 Investment Law is expected to expand housing supply.

Finance Ministry issues warning about corporate bonds
Finance Ministry issues warning about corporate bonds
FEATUREicon  23/09/2021 

After continuously issuing warnings about investment in corporate bonds, the Ministry of Finance has decided to take strong action against companies issuing "problematic" bonds to prevent risky behavior to the market.

Vietnam changes way of thinking in fighting Covid-19
Vietnam changes way of thinking in fighting Covid-19
FEATUREicon  23/09/2021 

Since the day Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh became the Head of the Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, there have been some fundamental changes made in the long march to fight the pandemic.

Domestic travel reopens, but under Covid-19 safety conditions
Domestic travel reopens, but under Covid-19 safety conditions
FEATUREicon  23/09/2021 

Some destinations are ready to reopen to receive travelers, while travel firms are preparing to serve domestic travelers with green cards.

Vaccines arriving later this year to be used for both children and adults
Vaccines arriving later this year to be used for both children and adults
FEATUREicon  23/09/2021 

Dr Pham Van Phuc from the Central Hospital for Tropical Diseases said that research shows that Covid-19 is less dangerous to children than adults and infected children have fewer complications.

Factories with only a few positive Covid-19 cases should remain open under new rules
Factories with only a few positive Covid-19 cases should remain open under new rules
FEATUREicon  22/09/2021 

It’s unreasonable to close a factory with thousands of workers when only one positive case is found, officials have said.

Some cities reopen beaches, restaurants under new rules
Some cities reopen beaches, restaurants under new rules
FEATUREicon  21/09/2021 

The cities and provinces that have controlled Covid outbreaks have reopened some services and received their first travelers.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN