Managing F1s in vulnerable areas: new approach

A woman in Bac Giang province, Vietnam's largest Covid-19 hotspot, refused to leave her home when medical workers came and asked her to to a concentrated quarantine area. 

An infant only 3 days old had to live far from her mother who was under quarantine.

Managing F1s in vulnerable areas: new approach

Bac Giang's woman refuses to leave her home when medical workers come and ask her to to a concentrated quarantine area.

The factories in some northern industrial zones had to suspend operation after all their workers were classified as F1 (close contact) and sent to concentrated quarantine.

The Medic Medical Center, where I work, which provides health examination services to thousands of patients a day, had to close its doors after tens of physicians were labeled as F1 and put under quarantine.

At a quarantine camp in a northern province, a high proportion of F1 workers becoming F0 (person who is source of infection) was reported.

Previously, when the pandemic spread to only a few provinces, people happily entered concentrated quarantine camps to protect themselves and society. But now they are afraid of concentrated quarantine, because they may become infected with coronavirus in the places that are set up to prevent the spread of virus.

My co-workers are worried as they are not sure if the hospital will have to close its doors one day, and they will then be put under quarantine for three weeks if an F0 accidentally comes to the hospital for a health examination.

What will happen if all hospitals and medical centers accidentally receive an F0? Will all of them have to close the doors? Who will serve non-Covid-19 patients if all medical workers are away for quarantine?

No one wants to live far from his or her family and away from work, even for one day. Young mothers have small kids, while middle-aged people have old parents they need to take care of. If one day they become F1, they will be forced to leave home for three weeks and face the risks of becoming an F0.

No one wants to live far from his or her family and away from work, even for one day. Young mothers have small kids, while middle-aged people have old parents they need to take care of. If one day they become F1, they will be forced to leave home for three weeks and face the risks of becoming an F0.

I myself have to take care of my parents who are seriously ill. If I am absent for half a day, my mother may die. I was lucky when an F0 case came to my hospital. I was at home taking care of my mother, and was not put under quarantine.

 

All solutions have an aim to ensure safety for society. There are many solutions from which to choose. If we think carefully, we will be able to find the solutions which are simple, and not costly and effective.

Experts have raised their voice about F1 classification, using different management methods. Bac Ninh is piloting a new model, allowing F1 workers to return to factories where they can work and follow quarantine rules.

Meanwhile, both Bac Ninh and Bac Giang provinces are allowing F1s to spend quarantine at their homes.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has told its taskforce in Bac Giang, which is directing the prevention and control of the pandemic in the province, to immediately "freeze" all the workers’ accommodation quarters to ensure strict isolation, especially the multi-story buildings where many workers live; and apply regulations in concentrated quarantine areas, considering these areas as 'concentrated quarantine zones'.

This means that in industrial zones and populous residential areas with a high number of positive cases, workers and people are staying in their places and are not being taken to concentrated isolation areas.

With this new model, Bac Giang, which is Vietnam's largest Covid-19 hotspot, allowed eight enterprises in four IZs to resume operations on May 28.

Hanoi, in its latest instruction, still requires isolation of F1s, but says "if there are signs of cough, fever, difficulty in breathing or signs of suspected Covid-19 infection, people have to isolate themselves from other people”.

The young mother with small kids and the woman forced to go to quarantine can isolate themselves at home, where they do not harm other people. And they can escape the obsessive fear of getting cross-infected in concentrated quarantine zones.

And I hope that my co-workers, the physicians under quarantine, can return to their work to take care of patients. As doctors, they understand well what they need to do to protect themselves from getting infected with coronavirus. 

Phan Xuan Trung (Medic Medical Center)

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