Wednesday, September 30 2020

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Hà Nội to test 50,000 people using PCR diagnostics, fine non-mask wearers

Update: August, 07/2020 - 16:22
Hà Nội health workers administered rapid tests for people returning from Đà Nẵng within July. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Starting Friday, Hà Nội health authorities plan to test nearly 50,000 people who returned from Đà Nẵng between July 15 - 29, Việt Nam’s COVID-19 epicentre, using the more accurate but time-consuming PCR tests.

Chairman of Hà Nội People’s Committee Nguyễn Đức Chung said that the total number of people returning from Hà Nội was estimated at more than 96,000 since early July, while the city only had 80,000 rapid COVID-19 tests. The tests’ accuracy is also limited.

The rapid test, which uses blood samples, delivers results within an hour or two in Hà Nội but since they detect the presence of antibodies the body produces to fight off the coronavirus, there is no telling whether the tested person is currently carrying the virus.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) uses nasal swabs to detect the presence of the virus and the viral load with higher accuracy but take a much longer time to complete.

Chung cited the case of Patient 714 in Hà Nội, where the rapid test results indicated he was negative for SARS-CoV-2 but the PCR test said otherwise.

Hà Nội’s steering committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has reviewed the capacity of PCR testing of all health units in the city.

Each day, Hà Nội Centre for Disease Control, together with Bạch Mai Hospital, Hà Nội Medical University Hospital, the National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology, and the Việt Nam National Children’s Hospital – can collect 10,000 specimens and process about 5,000.

There are 11 other hospitals in Hà Nội capable of PCR testing, but due to their limited capacity, the city agreed to have all qualified staff gathered at the Hà Nội CDC.

The capital city will need 10-12 days to test the 50,000 people.

The move came after the outbreak in Đà Nẵng, where hundreds of thousands of people across the country went for holidays in recent weeks as Việt Nam had gone months without local infections.

Chung said the outbreak will peak in about 10 days, and Hà Nội would continue to do testing, tracing and quarantining, while imposing shutdowns of bars, karaoke joints, sidewalk stalls, festivals and other large gatherings.

Starting today, the city will fine those not wearing masks in public, Hà Nội's leader said.

Hà Nội is also preparing for the national high school examination in compliance with guidelines from the education ministry. All classrooms, desks and chairs, and other equipment are being sterilised, while each room will be arranged for a maximum of 24 students to ensure social distancing.

Before entering the rooms, all students will have their temperatures scanned and are required to wear masks.

Those who have come into contact with confirmed cases and are being quarantined will take the exam at a later date. — VNS

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