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

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