|A man gets a COVID-19 booster shot at a company in HCM City’s District 3. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp|
HCM CITY — The HCM City health sector is fully prepared to respond to the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 during the upcoming Tết (Lunar New Year) holidays.
Nguyễn Hồng Tâm, deputy director of the HCM City Centre for Disease Control (HCDC), said the city would continue to closely monitor everyone arriving from abroad.
The centre has been conducting rapid COVID tests at the city’s Tân Sơn Nhất airport, transferring people who test positive to the 12th Field Hospital and performing gene sequencing to determine if the infection was caused by the Omicron variant.
Screening would be done in high-risk areas in the community where there is a rapid increase in the number of cases, Tâm said.
The city has plans in place particularly to safeguard high-risk people such as seniors and those with underlying conditions.
So far 18,493 people, or 71.6 per cent, in high-risk groups have been fully vaccinated, and many have also got booster shots.
The city would continue to give them booster shots, Tâm said.
The city has seen significant improvement in the fight against the pandemic recently with daily deaths falling to below 10 and the number of cases dropping sharply.
On January 17 the city reported 204 cases, the lowest since last July.
They included 35 Omicron cases, bringing the number so far to 65, all imported and isolated on arrival.
The number of serious patients requiring hospitalisation has also dropped sharply.
But Tâm said the public should remain vigilant, especially during the upcoming holidays.
“People need to comply with all the [safety] measures recommended by the Ministry of Health.”
Experts warned people should continue to take precautions to safeguard themselves from the more transmissible Omicron variant such as getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing high-quality masks, improving ventilation, and avoiding crowded indoor places.
So far there have been more than 511,000 cases and 20,200 deaths in the city.
Around 3,630 patients are currently in hospital, 75 of them aged under 16, 270 critically ill people who are on ventilators, and 17 requiring ECMO intervention. — VNS