Living safely with Omicron?

Dr-BS Pham Hung Van, Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Association of Clinical Microbiology, said that Omicron or Delta made no difference. It is important to increase the rate of vaccination, take good care of F0, use antiretroviral drugs from the beginning for at-risk subjects and strictly implement 5K.

False negatives

As of January 19, Ho Chi Minh City has 68 cases of Omicron infection. Of which, there are 65 imported cases and 3 community cases. With 3 community cases, the health sector traced 11 F1 and recorded 3 positive cases. At present, there are no results of genetic sequencing in the above cases.

Related to the 3 cases of Covid-19 infected with the Omicron variant that have just been detected in Ho Chi Minh City is a case imported from the US who even tested negative twice but then still had symptoms and contracted Covid-19. Explaining this, Dr.-BS Pham Hung Van said that despite having test results both times (1 time in the US before entry and 1 time in Nha Trang after entry) negative for SARS virus- CoV-2, but maybe because this person transited in some other countries, in the process, he was exposed and infected. “This case can be infected during the flight or transit. After returning to Vietnam, there were no symptoms for the first few days because at that time the virus had not broken out,” – Dr. Van said.

Injecting 3 doses of Covid-19 vaccines for frontline forces in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo: ROYAL TRIEU)

Answering about 3 cases of Omicron that have been detected in the community, so in the near future there is a risk of increasing the number of Omicron cases in the community, Dr. Van said that the virus does not change virulence when it mutates. The original virus (the virus that appeared in Wuhan, China) and the current virus, which is an Omicron variant, have no difference in virulence, only the difference in speed of spread. If the rate of spread is fast, the rate of disease in the community is high.

“If vaccines have not been vaccinated, the rate of serious illness is high, leading to medical overload. The 4th outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City is the most obvious lesson. At the time of the outbreak, many people had not been vaccinated. However, at present, the vaccination rate in Ho Chi Minh City is more than 97%, so the number of hospitalizations and deaths have decreased significantly in recent weeks,” – Dr. Van cited.

Associate Professor Dr. Vu Minh Phuc, former Dean of the Department of Pediatrics – University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, said the emergence of new strains is inevitable even after we have deployed the third booster injection. PCR tests and rapid tests, even though negative, can still be missed by false negatives. We also cannot prevent the Omicron strain from spreading in the community when applying strict tracing and isolation as before. Since we have entered the new normal, we have to live safely with the virus with 5K measures.

Prepare antiretroviral drugs

According to Associate Professor Vu Minh Phuc, thanks to the very high rate of Covid-19 vaccination in Vietnam, if the number of infections increases, it is forecast that the rate of severe transfer and hospitalization will not be as high as before.

Sharing the same opinion, Dr. Pham Hung Van said that it is impossible to avoid the spread of the virus when now activities have been opened. The solution to safe living with Covid-19, with the Omicron variant, is still to promote vaccination, promote the campaign to protect high-risk subjects, focus on consolidating primary medical care for true F0. good, use antiretroviral drugs in the first place for at-risk subjects. If the transfer is severe, it must be promptly supported and cared for. This will reduce the risk when the number of cases increases.

“Vaccination helps infected people not to get seriously ill. Currently, Ho Chi Minh City has more than 500,000 F0 announced by the Ministry of Health, so those who have already been infected will have immunity and it is very difficult to get infected again” – Dr. Van information.

PGS Phuc noted that if vaccination rates are already high but the number of infections increases rapidly, the health system needs to have scenarios to respond promptly in the worst case scenario. Firstly, the health sector should have antiretroviral drugs ready in public and private drug distribution systems, drugs for both mild and severe patient groups. “Antiviral drugs help reduce the replication of the virus, reduce the viral load on the group of mild patients, thereby reducing the spread. People need to have early and easy access to the doctor’s prescription, helping to reduce the number of imported cases. hospital and death” – Assoc.

Secondly, it is necessary to rebuild the network of monitoring and oxygen supply at the grassroots level, wards and communes, for early and timely handling of severe cases. Although the grassroots health system has been experienced in the past, but after a period of overwork, the grassroots medical staff is exhausted, not to mention the loss of a large number of personnel due to leave.

Assoc. Phuc further noted that tracing cases of Omicron mutation still has to be done to the right subjects, but should not be concentratedly isolated for mild or asymptomatic cases. These mild cases only need to be isolated and monitored at home.

It is forecasted that after Tet, the epidemic will be unpredictable, we need to prepare mentally so as not to waver, to live safely with the virus, so as not to have to block again, so that the economy can still develop and people’s lives. It’s still safe” – Assoc. Phuc said.

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