WHO Vietnam Expert Insight on COVID-19

Experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Vietnam gave faculty, staff and parents an exclusive presentation on the COVID-19 today (Friday 14 February). 

WHO Representative for Vietnam, Dr Kidong Park, together with his team members Dr Sotoku Otsu and Moreblessing Moyo gave an enlightening talk on the COVID-19 (more commonly referred to as the CoronaVirus) and what scientists currently know. 

It’s not entirely new: Delving into the science, Dr Otsu, the Diseases Control and Health Emergency Team Coordinator, said the Coronavirus is a known disease within the health community and COVID-19 is a new strain of a virus they are already familiar with. In fact, she shared, the CoronaVirus exists in the common flu as well. And although WHO had declared COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30th January 2020, Dr Otsu reassured the audience that the public should not be overly alarmed. She added, “PHEIC is declared when an extraordinary event is determined to constitute a public health risk in other states through an international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response. By declaring PHEIC, WHO [alerts] countries to be prepared for managing and preventing this disease.”

Vietnam Government has been diligent and proactive: The WHO team commended Vietnam for their proactive response to safeguarding their citizens from the virus. However, Dr Otsu highlighted that ‘almost all’ confirmed cases of the CoronaVirus had a clear link to China. Additionally, in China only 28 cases of the virus were found in children. There have been no confirmed cases of CoronaVirus in children outside of China, she stated. 

Transmission and infection is limited: During the one hour presentation, Dr Otsu and Dr Park illustrated how the virus is transmitted. The ‘mode of transmission’ they shared was via droplets (a cough or a sneeze). However, Dr Otsu said that a droplet is too heavy to ‘fly’ farther than a metre away, thus, for human to human transmission to happen, a person would have to be very close to the person sneezing or coughing and the droplet would need to be transferred typically on to the face for the other person to be infected. The doctors also shared that the virus needs to ‘live in a cell’ in order to replicate. Outside of a human body or animal, the virus ‘dies’ after a few hours. The doctors emphasised the importance of hand washing with soap and water as the best way to ‘kill’ the virus and limit the chance of spreading. The doctors also revealed that the incubation period for the virus is between three to five days. Therefore 14 day quarantines ensured there was an extremely low risk of contagion. 

Current Situation in Vietnam

  • The Vietnamese government has been very proactive in stemming the spread of the virus
  • The Vietnamese government opted to take extra measures such as closure of schools
  • The Vietnamese authorities are carrying out ‘contact tracing’ to ensure that people who have interacted with known ‘cases’ are being tested, monitored and quarantined. 
  • To date, there are 16 confirmed cases, concentrated in three provinces – Vinh Phuc, Thanh Hoa and Khanh Hoa. 
  • Six people have fully recovered and have been discharged from hospital
  • 602 people are under monitoring

WHO Recommendation for the General Public

  • Stay Healthy (eat well, sleep and stay hydrated)
  • Avoid close contact with people with respiratory symptoms 
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

Recommended Information Sources:

From the Head of School: School closure – daily update #5

Dear Families,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank parents and caregivers who have worked with students to make distance learning a positive and successful learning experience.  We would also like to acknowledge and thank our teachers who have endeavoured to provide meaningful and engaging distance learning opportunities for your children.

As you know, schools in HCMC have been directed to extend the current closure and universities in Hanoi have received a similar notice.
At this time of sending, the Hanoi Municipal People’s Committee has not yet made an announcement for Hanoi. We are ready for both the possibility of continued distance learning on Monday and for the possibility of reopening.

Please check your email over the weekend and we will inform you of UNIS Hanoi’s decision in time for school on Monday.

Thank you again for continued patience and understanding.

Yours sincerely
Jane McGee

Monitoring the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

Please note this news article will be updated during the Tet Holiday week:
Update 27 January:

In the face of the unfolding CoronaVirus global crisis, the UNIS Crisis Response Team has remained in regular contact over the holiday period and has decided to take the following measures to protect our community as we return from the Tet Holiday:

  1. To prepare for school to open on Monday February 3, campus will remain closed for the entire Tet Holiday. Open campus, originally scheduled for Thursday, Friday and Saturday has been cancelled.

  1. We are following our pandemic response School Operating Regulations and ensuring we have appropriate measures in place for the current level of the outbreak as well as any changes that may occur. The plan includes procedures for all aspects of the school including hygiene, sanitation, access to campus, communication and possible online/off-campus learning provision. More details will be communicated prior to the start of school.

  1. Tournament and Event Cancellation Updates:

It has been decided to cancel our hosting of the APAC Basketball tournament which was scheduled for the week after the break. Like many other international schools in the area we cannot at this time take any risk to our community which can reasonably be avoided.

Our students will not be travelling to the international events scheduled immediately after the Tet break which have been cancelled, and it is unlikely that those scheduled throughout the month of February will take place.

February event status summary (January 27 12:00):

  • APAC Swimming – Cancelled
  • APAC Basketball at UNIS – Cancelled
  • AMIS (Band and Orchestra) – Cancelled
  • MRISA Basketball (HCMC) – tbd
  • APAC Band – tbd
  • APAC Theatre – tbd
  • MRISA Soccer – tbd
  • Model United Nations at UNIS – tbd

In the meantime, as you travel in the region please continue to follow the guidelines shared by our School Health Centre below to limit your exposure and protect the safety of your family and our community.

HEALTH TIPS FOR TRAVEL:

  • Choose the window seat to minimize contact with others.
    You’re more likely to get sick if you sit within one or two rows of a sick traveler, but you can’t predict this in advance. In general, no matter where you end up, you’ll want to avoid as much contact with other people as you can.
  • Turn on your air vent.
    While you aren’t likely to catch something from the recycled air, you may still be at risk from airborne pathogens hovering near you. So turn the air vent to low or medium and aim it to blow down into your lap. This will hopefully direct those germs away from your face.
  • Wipe down your tray table, armrest, and seat.
    Bad news: The airline does not clean your accommodations nearly as often as they should. Researchers have found that the seat pocket and armrests are some of the germiest spots on planes, though the in-flight entertainment screen, tray table, and other areas of your seat follow not far behind.
  • Avoid in-flight magazines, blankets, and pillows.
    Like those seat surfaces, there’s no guarantee these items have been cleaned recently. You’re probably best off avoiding them altogether. If you tend to get chilly, just bring your own sweater.
  • Wear a Surgical Mask.
    This will help protect you from large droplet particles, and if your flight is a long one, you will need to change it (every 8 hours is an approximate recommendation.)

USEFUL LINKS:

PERSONAL HEALTH PRECAUTIONS:

  • Hand washing is your number 1 defence!
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Use hand sanitizer, even after washing your hands.
  • Rest well, especially if you have a long flight.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

After you land, don’t let down your guard. Remember, while your actual flight may make up the bulk of your travel, you’re also in close proximity to other travelers in the airport, taxis, and other parts of your day. So don’t get complacent once you’re off the plane.

RETURNING FROM THE HOLIDAYS:

  • Please DO NOT send your child to School if they are sick, you are putting other students and staff at risk if you do so!
  • If your child is sick or you are concerned, please contact the School Health Centre for further instructions.

 
Update 25 January: The APAC Swimming tournament (and all other APAC events in China) has been cancelled and our students will not be travelling for this competition.
In addition we have alerted our colleagues in China and Hong Kong that we cannot host their students should the APAC Basketball event at UNIS still happen (scheduled for February 5). The situation is being monitored closely and that decision will be made later in the week.
Our student athletes and families involved in hosting have been informed.

 

Posted 24 January: Due to the news of the Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak originating in China, we would like to reassure you that we are monitoring the situation closely and planning for possible School responses to protect our community should the situation worsen.

At this time (January 24 14:00), there are 2 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (nCoV) reported in the news in Vietnam. Today, schools in China have also started to report receiving direction from the government for the cancellation of non-essential events, and we know that one school at least has cancelled hosting tournaments.

This is a fast developing situation and we will be monitoring it closely and keeping our community updated during the break.

We have international tournaments planned immediately after the Tet Holiday which will be impacted. Also, depending on the developing situation, schools may be further impacted following the Lunar New Year national holidays in Asia. We are working in collaboration with health agencies and our international school colleagues for an effective and responsible response.

In the meantime, as some of you are preparing to travel during the holidays, please be aware of the international concern around the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak and take note of some advice from our School Health Centre.

HEALTH TIPS FOR TRAVEL:

  • Choose the window seat to minimize contact with others.
    You’re more likely to get sick if you sit within one or two rows of a sick traveler, but you can’t predict this in advance. In general, no matter where you end up, you’ll want to avoid as much contact with other people as you can.
  • Turn on your air vent.
    While you aren’t likely to catch something from the recycled air, you may still be at risk from airborne pathogens hovering near you. So turn the air vent to low or medium and aim it to blow down into your lap. This will hopefully direct those germs away from your face.
  • Wipe down your tray table, armrest, and seat.
    Bad news: The airline does not clean your accommodations nearly as often as they should. Researchers have found that the seat pocket and armrests are some of the germiest spots on planes, though the in-flight entertainment screen, tray table, and other areas of your seat follow not far behind.
  • Avoid in-flight magazines, blankets, and pillows.
    Like those seat surfaces, there’s no guarantee these items have been cleaned recently. You’re probably best off avoiding them altogether. If you tend to get chilly, just bring your own sweater.
  • Wear a Surgical Mask.
    This will help protect you from large droplet particles, and if your flight is a long one, you will need to change it (every 8 hours is an approximate recommendation.)

USEFUL LINKS:

PERSONAL HEALTH PRECAUTIONS:

  • Hand washing is your number 1 defence!
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Use hand sanitizer, even after washing your hands.
  • Rest well, especially if you have a long flight.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

After you land, don’t let down your guard. Remember, while your actual flight may make up the bulk of your travel, you’re also in close proximity to other travelers in the airport, taxis, and other parts of your day. So don’t get complacent once you’re off the plane.

RETURNING FROM THE HOLIDAYS:

  • Please DO NOT send your child to School if they are sick, you are putting other students and staff at risk if you do so!
  • If your child is sick or you are concerned, please contact the School Health Centre for further instructions.