HCM City records more than 1,000 Covid-19 cases, steps up prevention measures
A city official has been assigned to focus only on epidemic fighting in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19 amid the second two-week social distancing period which ends on June 30.
By June 18 noon, HCM City had 1,633 patients. Cases have been found in all of the city's 22 districts and Thu Duc City. Previously, the city had about 100 new patients daily, the second highest in the country, only after Bac Giang province.
Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong assigned Vice Chair Duong Anh Duc to focus only on epidemic prevention and control. At the same time, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son left Bac Giang province to go to Ho Chi Minh City to assist the city in epidemic fighting.
On the evening of June 17, the HCM City Center for Disease Control (HCDC) said that after controlling the infection chain related to the Revival Ekklesia Mission (with nearly 500 cases), the city had discovered six more infection chains, with a high number of cases.
According to HCDC, with many new cases of unknown sources of infection, anyone in the city could become someone who could infect others.
Many patients have been discovered by chance. For example, a woman and her daughter who were selling fruit in Tan Tao ward, Binh Tan district were found to be positive for SARS-CoV-2 after visiting a hospital after a traffic accident. And a Grab driver who stopped to take a Covid test after seeing people queuing to take samples received a positive result for SARS-CoV-2.
The city said that the sources of infection are unknown for infection chains with about 600 cases related to an apartment building in Binh Tan district, a mechanical workshop in Hoc Mon dítrict, and the outbreak at Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
The Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases has been temporarily locked down because 60 employees tested positive for nCoV. Photo: Truong Thanh Tung
So far, at least six factories in the city have been temporarily locked down as workers have tested positive for Covid.
Deputy Minister Nguyen Truong Son said that when the number of Covid patients has surpassed 1,000 cases, the local health sector must prepare a scenario of 5,000 cases. If it exceeds 5,000, then a scenario of 10,000 patients must be developed.
Depending on the actual situation, the most appropriate decision will be made to both fight the epidemic and ensure socio-economic development. Son said that the major infection chains in HCM City are basically controlled and the current epidemic fighting strategy is effective.
Regarding treatment capacity, Son said that the city is capable of treating Covid-19 patients with mild to severe symptoms. The local health agency has prepared 2,500 beds in eight hospitals, which will increase to 3,500 beds soon.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam noted that although Ho Chi Minh City's testing capacity is very good compared to other provinces, the city, with a population of 10 million and many industrial parks, must increase testing capacity if outbreaks occur in industrial parks.
Taking samples for Covid tests in the Tan Thuan export processing zone, HCM City. Photo: Truong Thanh Tung
From June 18, the city is piloting the self-collection of samples for COVID-19 testing and home-quarantine of F1s (persons with direct contact with confirmed cases). It will also step-up inspections of concentrated quarantine sites to prevent cross-infection there as well as in the community and industrial parks.
The deputy minister said that the city would set up about 100 working groups to inspect all factories and enterprises in industrial parks.
Regarding the 836,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses donated by the Japanese Government that have been transported to HCM City, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Duong Anh Duc said that authorities have identified the priority groups and devised an inoculation plan with the aim of vaccinating 200,000 people per day. The city is also working to raise its testing capacity to 30,000 individual tests per day.
HCM City Chair Nguyen Thanh Phong said the city government would sacrifice short-term economic benefits to control the Covid-19 outbreak.
Ho Chi Minh City has been asked to work harder to impose restriction measures on the smallest possible scale so as not to prolong large-scale social distancing.