Vietnam health ministry proposes ceasing publication of daily COVID-19 infections

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Vietnam health ministry proposes ceasing publication of daily COVID-19 infections

This image shows a health worker handling statistics of daily new COVID-19 cases in Vietnam. Photo: Duong Lieu / Tuoi Tre

The Vietnamese Ministry of Health has proposed an end to the publication of daily coronavirus infection data to avoid anxiety among the public, while maintaining the update on severe cases and deaths every day.

In its proposal to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control at a meeting in Hanoi on Saturday, the ministry said announcing daily infection numbers, which has been done day after day by the ministry, should be stopped.

The proposal comes amid daily COVID-19 infections increasing across Vietnam as the central government has adopted a strategy of living safely with the coronavirus by easing previous COVID-19 restrictions and re-opening the economy since October 1 last year.

As a routine, at 6:00 pm almost every day since 2020, the ministry releases a report on new COVID-19 cases, along with the figures of patients under treatment, the death toll, and other information related to vaccination and testing.

In its proposal, the ministry explained that local health authorities still keep a record of daily new infections, together with seven other indicators to show epidemic levels.

For the time being, local health authorities should halt their publication of new infection data every day, the ministry stated.

In response to the ministry’s proposal, many people have expressed their contrary opinions on whether the announcement of daily infections should be maintained.

“Based on the number of infections, business owners can come up with their corporate plans,” said Duong Van Thanh, a resident of Hanoi.

If the number of infections is high, it means certain restrictions on travel or gatherings may be applied, and such limitations will affect planned business activities.”

Thanh also predicted that many people would disagree with the stoppage of such announcements, which have become regular epidemic information for the public and are also necessary for planning business operations.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nguyen Trong An, former deputy head of the Department of Children, under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, approved of the ministry’s proposal.

Dr. An said that counting daily infections is no longer needed, but it is still necessary to publicly announce the exact numbers of critical patients and deaths every day to prevent complacency and neglect among the public.

Many other opinions also agreed with the proposal as they commented that such data is not accurate.

Many cases were not reported to health authorities, making the announced data incorrect, said Dr. Tran Thanh Tung, from the Hanoi Medical University.

Most of the current infections are mild thanks to high vaccination rates, which has prompted many people not to report their infections, Dr. Tung explained.

“Figures that are no longer exact and fail to properly reflect epidemic situations should be removed,” Dr. Tung said.

“Health authorities of many other countries have also ceased announcing daily COVID-19 cases.”

An epidemiologist told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that the ministry’s proposition is acceptable, but noted that daily new case data is one of the eight factors for epidemic level assessment, thus health authorities must record them accurately, even if they do not make them public.

An official of the health ministry told Tuoi Tre that the agency is continuing to collect feedback for its proposal.

Vietnam has documented 4,582,058 COVID-19 infections, including 2,718,440 recoveries and 40,891 fatalities, since the pandemic hit the Southeast Asian country in early 2020, the ministry reported on Monday.

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