A medical officer arranges samples taken for Covid-19 testing from passengers at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, March 18, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
With a population of nearly 100 million the country has so far spent less than $400 million, Dam, who is also head of the National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Fight and Prevention, said at a meeting on Thursday.
Vietnam sprung into action very early and effectively implemented anti-pandemic measures like mass testing, vaccine research and production of biological products and medical equipment, he said.
When China confirmed the first death from the new coronavirus on January 11, Vietnam tightened control at all border gates and airports. It quickly began to isolate people coming from infected areas and quarantine those with symptoms of Covid-19 in hospitals, where they were tested for the virus.
Mass testing was done at industrial parks, wholesale markets and neighborhoods with Covid cases.
People were offered a 14-day quarantine and Covid-19 tests for free. Foreigners had to pay for treatment while Vietnamese citizens did not.
Only from September 1 were people coming from overseas asked to pay the cost of quarantining them.
Labs have been working hard to get a Covid-19 vaccine ready for clinical trials on humans by the end of this year.
New Covid-19 testing strategy needed
Vietnam has been combating the pandemic while also not taking its eye off the economic ball.
The government is considering the resumption of commercial flights to enable foreign experts and investors to enter the country.
Aviation authorities have prepared detailed plans for resuming commercial flights to six Asian destinations from September 15 with around 5,000 foreign passengers scheduled to arrive in Vietnam per week.
Experts have recommended the use of antigen rapid test kits at airports and border gates to screen foreign arrivals like many other countries do.
Professor Dang Duc Anh, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, said this would save time and reduce costs.
Currently Vietnam carries out RT-PCR tests while quick test kits detect antibodies against coronavirus. The downside of the rapid test is that it is only accurate if a person has been infected with the coronavirus for seven days or more.
Therefore, to meet the requirements of the new testing strategy, the Covid-19 steeting committee said it is necessary to develop antigen rapid test kits with sensitivity matching the RT-PCR kits.
Experts said while waiting for domestic products, rapid test kits could be imported for use at airports.
Vietnam has had 1,046 Covid-19 cases, 253 of them active, with 35 deaths.
By Viet Tuan