HCM City is speeding up its pace of vaccinations as part of an effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and “relax social distancing” restrictions, the HCM City Centre of Disease Control (HCDC) said.
A HCM City resident is vaccinated against COVID-19. The city targets having all residents aged 18 and overvaccinated with two doses by year-end.
City officials said that it would announce its decision on social distancing regulations on Sunday or Monday.
“Full vaccination (two doses) for people plays a key role in helping the country’s largest hotspot contain the outbreak and relax social distancing,” HCDC said.
The city targets having 100 per cent of people aged 18 and over vaccinated with at least one dose by the end of the month, and two doses by the end of the year.
More than 8.1 million doses of vaccines from various brands are needed in the city until the end of the year, with over 6.7 million of them to be used for the second shot.
As of Sept 2, more than 6.2 million people aged 18 and over in the city had received their first shot. Of the total number, more than 350,000 people aged 18 and over had received their second shot. There are 7.2 million adults in the city.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Dr. Ngô Phương Lan, rector of the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, said it was important to offer a “mental vaccine” to the community, referring to timely support for people affected psychologically by the pandemic.
Many people are struggling to maintain mental wellbeing because of lockdown measures, joblessness and other hurdles, and they may have recurrent feelings of anxiety, depression, panic, loneliness, or isolation, according to Lan.
A survey conducted last month by a group of lecturers from the university’s Department of Psychology found that most people have suffered psychologically during prolonged social distancing.
Many people said they felt tired or lacked energy, had sleep disorders, or felt depressed or hopeless. Others had difficulty concentrating, were anxious or constantly worrying, or found it hard to relax.
“COVID patients, medical staff, workers and students are the groups most mentally vulnerable to the pandemic,” Lan said.
Based on research results, the university has created a programme that provides counselling and psychotherapy beginning on September 5, as well as timely support for COVID patients after recovery from the disease.
A hotline (0987111801) has been set up for anyone who needs a consultation.
The support includes help for obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. Experts participating in the programme will provide psychological counselling for people in locked-down areas and at treatment facilities.
The programme has already begun working with Bình Dân Hospital and Field Hospital No. 12 to provide psychological counselling for patients being treated there.
In another matter, the HCM City Police Department is piloting the use of two cameras that scan QR codes for “domestic travel” declarations at two checkpoints in the city. One camera has been set up at Phù Đổng intersection of Nguyễn Trãi and Cách Mạng Tháng 8 streets and the other at Cách Mạng Tháng 8 Street near the District 3 Police.
The cameras will scan the QR code with “domestic travel” declarations that people have declared. Previously, police or military officers had to use their personal phones to scan and check people at the checkpoint.
The number of new cases in the country since the fourth wave that began in late April has topped 500,000, with HCM City accounting for more than 241,000 and more than 9,990 deaths.
Outbreak contained in two districts
According to the Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, District 7 and Củ Chi District have announced they have basically contained the outbreak. District 7 is now treating 2,580 cases, of which 1,446 people are being treated at home. The number of deaths has dropped sharply in recent days.
Previously, the field hospital for COVID-19 treatment in District 7 No. 1 had four to five deaths per day, but that has fallen to two deaths a day. On September 1, District 7 did not record any deaths.
As for Củ Chi District, as of August 31, the total number of people who had received the first dose of vaccine in Củ Chi had reached 94 per cent of the population aged 18 and over. Nguyễn Thị Hằng, vice chairwoman of Củ Chi District People’s Committee, said: “The risk of community spread is under control.”
From August 15 to August 31, Củ Chi District recorded 2,327 COVID-19 cases, including 1,547 cases in locked-down areas, 222 cases in concentrated quarantine areas, and 558 cases in the community, according to Hằng. The district has vaccinated more than 93 per cent of people aged 18 and over with one dose, and 4 per cent have received two doses.