City to speed up mass testing, ensure oxygen supply

September 01, 2021 - 15:45
HCM City will continue to speed up mass testing to detect cases as soon as possible during the remaining days of the lockdown period slated to end on September 6.


Volunteer medical students take samples from people in Ward 3 in HCM City’s District 4 to test for COVID-19. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Giang   

HCM CITY — HCM City will continue to speed up mass testing to detect cases as soon as possible during the remaining days of the lockdown period slated to end on September 6.

The city has been focusing on mass testing since August 23 to discover positive cases that need quarantine and treatment. Rapid antigen testing for all residents have been conducted every two days in red (very high-risk) and orange (high-risk) zones.

The city has given RT-PCR tests each week in green (safe) and yellow (low-risk) zones with pooled samples of 10 for green zones, and pooled samples of five for yellow zones.

People have also been helped to conduct quick tests at home. Large-scale testing in red and orange zones over the past week detected 4,800 cases daily, accounting for 3.8 per cent of the total samples in those zones during the period.

Nguyễn Văn Nên, secretary of the Party Committee, said the 3.8 per cent rate found in high-risk areas after mass testing was “within the city’s capacity to handle”.


Dr. Tăng Chí Thượng, director of the city Department of Health, said the health sector was prepared for an increase in cases through mass testing. 

Treatment has improved as patients have been classified depending on their symptoms. Patients can be treated at home, at isolation areas in districts, or at field hospitals or health facilities. 

As many as 413 mobile medical stations led by a team of military doctors are offering treatment for patients, especially those at home. “The number of stations will be adjusted depending on the number of cases at home.” 

The health sector has used remdesivir, the first antiviral drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19. It has the ability to shorten treatment times and speed up recovery of critically ill patients. 

In addition, the health sector will add the anti-viral drug molnupiravir for treating mild symptoms, but its usage will be carefully monitored by medical staff, according to Thượng.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Trường Sơn said that large-scale testing has helped districts better understand the pandemic situation in each district.

“I expect the number of cases will continue to rise in the coming days before it begins dropping gradually thanks to mass testing in high-risk areas during the lockdown.” 

Oxygen supply 

Soldiers from the Ministry of National Defence’s Air Defence - Air Force are in charge of two mobile oxygen-production stations on trucks that travel to HCM City hospitals that need oxygen cylinders. — VNA/VNS Photo Xuân Khu   

The Ministry of Health said HCM City’s COVID hospitals and health facilities should ensure oxygen supply to cope with new cases and critically ill patients. 

The ministry requires hospitals such as district-level and level-2 hospitals to have at least two central oxygen systems and sufficient equipment and human resources to perform high-flow oxygen therapy via the high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) technique.

At general hospitals level-1 and higher, intensive care units must have at least 50 beds each and be ready to expand to 100 beds with a central oxygen system.

The city Department of Information and Communications recently launched the phone app Oxygen 247 to help COVID patients and health officials contact hospitals that have empty beds with oxygen cylinders and ventilators.

The Department of Health and the city’s Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control can dispatch oxygen cylinders to hospitals facing a shortage.

The app is available on IOS and Android platforms. Its database is connected with the Department of Health’s management system which is updated frequently.  

Oxygen production facilities in Việt Nam can make 1,300 tonnes a day and double their capacity if needed, according to the ministry.

Food supply

Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday (August 31), Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam urged HCM City to hire freight forwarders to package and deliver food and essential items to people in need.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 (who have immunity to the disease) and are in good health will be paid if they offer assistance with the work, he added.

Tô Thị Bích Châu, chairwoman of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee of HCM City, said the city has an abundance of food and vegetables from sponsors to support people in need, but it lacks a sufficient number of people for packaging, distribution and transportation.

“A number of frontline officers in communes and wards have been infected with COVID-19,” she said. 

The city’s goal is to bring the outbreak under control by September 15.

As of Tuesday (August 31), the city was treating more than 40,130 patients at medical facilities, including 2,449 aged under 16. As many as 2,736 people are critically ill and on ventilators, and 16 require ECMO intervention. Another 20,604 are being treated at isolation facilities in various districts.

Of 83,643 people being treated at home, 24,050 have recovered and will remain isolated for another two weeks.

The number of new infections in the country since the fourth wave that began in late April has topped 458,000, with HCM City accounting for more than 221,200. — VNS