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Vietnam to let businesses run Covid-19 tests at airports

Thursday, 10/09/2020 GMT+7

The Health Ministry will hire businesses for testing passengers at airports as Vietnam plans to ease travel restrictions and adapt to pandemic times, officials said at a meeting Wednesday.

The National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control has said that it is necessary now to "live safely with the pandemic," and to allow experts and investors into the nation for the cause of socio-economic development.

For this, it is vital to implement a plan to perform rapid tests at border gates, airports, hospitals and mass gathering events, ensuring timely detection of infections and prevention of community transmissions.

Experts have suggested the Health Ministry draw from experiences of Germany, India, Japan, South Korea and Thailand in performing tests on passengers when resuming some international routes.

Acting Health Minister Long said that for now, Vietnam was not considering letting tourists in.

He said experts and skilled workers entering Vietnam for short-term stays of less than 14 days would not have to stay in centralized quarantine facilities. But they must be confirmed negative by RT-PCR testing three-five days before entry.

Once they enter Vietnam, they have to be tested and samples collected for more tests every two days.

The Ministry of Science and Technology said at the meeting that it will buy test kits from two local medical firms, Sao Thai Duong Joint Stock Company and Medicon Co., Ltd., for the Covid-19 antigen detection tests.

As explained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, antigen detection test can quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity using swabs.

Vietnam has been using the antigen detection test kit using the real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to diagnose infections of the novel coronavirus.

This method promises greater accuracy but requires high skills and complicated operation processes, apart from taking quite a long time to get the result, said Nguyen Cong Tac, deputy Minister of Science and Technology.

For now, local companies have been working on producing antigen detection test kits that can make use of existing equipment and machinery in Vietnam, take shorter time to come up with the results that are as precise as those analyzed by the RT-PCR method, he said.

Sao Thai Duong has completed making the new test kit and submitted it to the authorities for assessment and approval while Medicon is in the process of doing so.

Once completed, Medicon expects to sell each of its antigen detection test kit for $3.50, which is 70 percent of the global average price for the product.

The health and science-technology ministries are responsible for checking and assessing all antigen detection test kits produced by local firms.

The nation’s aviation authorities had said early this month that they have prepared detailed plans for resuming commercial flights to six Northeast and Southeast Asian destinations this month.

The Ministry of Transport and other relevant agencies have submitted plans to the Covid-19 steering committee, asking for flights to resume to Guangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Cambodia and Laos from September 15, with all foreign passengers quarantined on arrival.

Vietnam suspended all international flights on March 25. Many foreigners who have been kept out of Vietnam due to travel restrictions have pleaded with the government to reopen the borders and resume international flights so that they could reunite with their families.

On Thursday, Vietnam entered its seventh day in a row without community transmission of the novel coronavirus.

The nation has registered 1,059 Covid-19 cases so far with 890 recoveries and 35 deaths.


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