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|Hospitals have increased testing capacity following new infections. Photo: Le Toan|
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at a government meeting on May 5 said that the country needs to have a new approach in prevention and fight against the pandemic as events develop in Vietnam and regional nations. “The spirit should be switched from a state of prevention to active fighting, while ensuring harmony between prevention and fight to ensure the highest possible efficacy,” he explained.
The PM also requested accelerated application of advanced technology, stronger anti-pandemic measures, and more vaccine imports and wide-scale vaccinations, with priority given to frontline and high-risk subjects.
The request was made as the virus spread to 15 cities and provinces in Vietnam in the latest batch of cases. Social distancing is being implemented in many of the affected localities – Thai Binh province on May 6 implemented strict social distancing, while Bac Ninh province did the same with the districts of Luong Tai, Thuan Thanh, Tien Du, along with Tu Son Town and Bac Ninh city from May 7. Vinh Phuc also followed with similar actions in Vinh Yen city. Along with those, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hung Yen, Danang, and Haiphong have suspended non-essential services and activities, including street eateries and cafés, as well as tourism sites, sidewalk tea shops, temples and religious sites, massage parlours, music venues, cinemas, gyms, and gaming sites among others.
Several hospitals have been locked down after batches of infections, including the COVID-19 frontline of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Dong Anh District, as well as the Tan Trieu facility of the National Cancer Hospital, commonly known as K Hospital, and Military Hospital 105.
Nguyen Thanh Long, Minister of Health, noted that the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in particular needs to remain aware of quarantine environments, management of quarantine areas, and transmission in such environments.
“We experienced this with the lockdown at Bach Mai Hospital in the past, but Bach Mai is on a bigger scale than the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases. We believe that as cities and provinces are drastically tracing contacts and sources of infections for quarantine, the situation will be timely dealt with,” Long said.
To prepare for new developments, the Ministry of Health on May 6 issued Document No.3775/BYT-KCB which asked hospitals directly under the ministry, as well as those under management of universities and departments of health, to take urgent measures to prevent and fight against the pandemic.
Hospitals and health departments are hurrying checks and completion of their COVID-19 response plans so as to better adapt to the pandemic development at different levels, including plans to expand treatment facilities and ensure sufficient devices, materials, necessary drugs, and manpower.
Health facilities have to strictly implement the assessment of safety at their sites in line with the ministry’s set of criteria, while strictly screening, implementing quarantine, and controlling bacterial contamination as well as and SARS-CoV-2 transmission. They also have to maintain physical distancing.
Both central-level and provincial-level hospitals continue to increase their SARS-CoV-2 Realtime RT-PCR testing capacity. They have to regularly carry out random testing for their staff, and hospital transfer is also limited, except for special cases.
Starting from May 5, mandatory centralised quarantine for entries into the country and direct contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been extended to 21 days, and frequency of testing could be increased to 4-5 times during the quarantine period to increase safety.
On the same day, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control also sent a document to ministries, government agencies, and municipal and provincial people’s committees proposing that they strengthen propaganda on health declarations, while asking their units, hospitals, schools, companies, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, public transport, and locals to adhere to the proposals.
Vietnam had gone another 35 days without a community infection of coronavirus before last new cases were logged on April 27. As of last Friday that number had risen to 161, bringing the national total to over 3,100 through the course of the pandemic.