HCM City says COVID outbreak has peaked, seeks ‘special’ mechanism to reopen economy

September 28, 2021 - 07:51

The country’s COVID-19 hotspot, HCM City, has seen the pandemic peak and has basically contained it, Nguyễn Thị Huỳnh Mai, chief of office at the city Department of Health, said.


Nguyễn Thị Huỳnh Mai, chief of office of the HCM City Department of Health, speaks to the media on Sunday. Photo courtesy of the department

HCM CITY — The country’s COVID-19 hotspot, HCM City, has seen the pandemic peak and has basically contained it, Nguyễn Thị Huỳnh Mai, chief of office at the city Department of Health, said.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday (Sept 26), she said: “The city has reached the peak of the pandemic.

“The city has set up 22 teams to inspect the situation in each district, ward and commune to make plans for the coming time.

“It will also review each of the evaluation criteria with guidance from the Ministry of Health for prevention in future.”

The city has 3,286 intensive-care beds for emergency situations, she noted.

Depending on the situation, the department plans to gradually reduce the number of isolation areas and medical facilities, and allow hospitals hitherto treating only COVID patients to resume normal operations, she said.

In “safe areas”, this would begin at the end of September, she said.

Since September 22 a general hospital each in districts 7, Cần Giờ and Củ Chi, all designated as ‘safe’, have gone back to normal functioning.

The Hospital for Tropical Diseases has resumed outpatient services for HIV patients, the HCM City Children’s Hospital has reopened its surgery and vaccination departments, and the Gò Vấp District Health Centre has resumed immunisation of children.

“The hospitals no longer treat Covid-19 patients, but maintain 10-20 beds for isolation in case of suspected cases, and have an oxygen system to promptly resuscitate critically ill patients,” the department said.

The city plans to maintain field hospitals Nos. 13, 14 and 16, which remain resuscitation centres.

Nguyễn Hồng Tâm, deputy director of the HCM City Centre for Disease Control, said the positive rate in various districts had decreased to 0.2 per cent on Sept 25, down from 0.4 on September 22.

“The decrease in the positive rate is a good sign.”

‘Special policy’ needed 

City authorities have asked the Government for a “special mechanism” exclusively designed for the country’s largest city to enable it to reopen the economy by month-end, according to Phan Văn Mãi, chairman of its People’s Committee.

“The city of 13 million needs a dedicated mechanism for achieving the goal of new normal after September 30.”

It is drafting a plan to gradually reopen its economy based on the pandemic situation and recommendations by health authorities.

It envisages issuing green cards to people who have received at least one dose of a vaccine after at least two weeks or have recovered from COVID.

It has urged the Government to continue to prioritise vaccines for itself and the rest of the southern key economic zone to quickly achieve herd immunity as suggested by the Ministry of Health.

Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long has announced guidelines for a “safe and flexible” response by cities and provinces to prepare for the “new normal” situation.

To reopen the economy, at least 80 per cent of people aged over 50 must be fully vaccinated, 100 per cent of grassroots medical stations should have medical oxygen and every commune must set up mobile medical groups to take care of COVID patients.

Phạm Đức Hải, deputy head of the city Steering Committee for COVID Prevention and Control, said the city is treating 39,208 patients currently, including 3,751 under 16, 1,918 critically ill and on ventilators and 23 patients with ECMO intervention.

It has administered 9.44 million doses of vaccines as of September 25, one shot to 6.8 million people and a second to 1.3 million. They include more than 1.1 million people aged 65 years or above or with underlying medical conditions.

HCM City has had more than 371,000 COVID cases since late April, when the fourth wave began. More than 14,370 have died. — VNS