COVID-19 a concern in Hà Nội apartment buildings

June 01, 2021 - 08:44

A number of COVID-19 cases were reported at apartment buildings in Hà Nội in recent days, putting thousands of residents under lockdown.


Block P11, Park Hill Times City Urban Complex, where two COVID-19 patients live, is locked down last week. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tùng

Khánh Dương

HÀ NỘI — A number of COVID-19 cases were reported at apartment buildings in Hà Nội in recent days, putting thousands of residents under lockdown.

Five apartment buildings in Hà Nội were locked down on just one day last week. Residents have mixed feelings about the lock-downs while local authorities are trying their best to respond to the outbreak.

While having dinner with her family on Tuesday, Phạm Thu Trà, living at an apartment on Minh Khai Street, Hai Bà Trưng District, received a phone call announcing a man living next door had tested positive for coronavirus. All households on the same floor as her were put into lockdown.

Although she, her family and other neighbours did not have close contact with the patient, Trà was still worried and had a lot of questions racing in her mind. “How long will the lockdown be? Can I go down to the first floor to get food? Can my daughter sit for the exam for high school in mid-June if the lockdown lasts long?”

Right after the positive case was confirmed, the whole apartment floor was disinfected. Nearly 40 people in 12 apartments were asked not to go out, list their travel history and contact local authorities if there was any trouble.

Residents living on other floors of the apartment building were asked to refrain from going out.

A supermarket located at an apartment building in Hai Bà Trưng District is disinfected after an F1 case came to buy food. Residents said local authorities had responded timely to the outbreak. — VNS Photo Dương Nguyễn

Phạm Minh Hưng, a police officer of Vĩnh Tuy Ward, Hai Bà Trưng District, who came to the apartment building to assist residents in lockdown said: “We try to keep in touch with locked down residents on a Zalo group where all information about the positive case is updated. If they need any help, they can send messages on Zalo and we are ready to help.”

Trà said: “On the second day of lockdown, I ran out of rice. One of my neighbours kindly shared his rice but we are not allowed to go out to meet each other. And we found a solution: My neighbour put the rice bag at his doorstep then a police officer helped carry the bag and put it in front of my door.”

“Every day, the police officers on duty also bring food and necessary items sent by our relatives to every household. They are very helpful,” she said.

Ngô Thu Trang, another resident in lockdown, said: “When I knew I would be locked down, I was a little panicked. But some days later, after receiving help from security guards and police officers as well as encouragement from my neighbours, I felt relieved. Residents on the same floor who rarely meet each other on normal days are now united.”

“Local authorities have responded timely and issued detailed instructions to residents in lockdown,” Trang told Việt Nam News.

Active response

COVID-19 in Hà Nội is getting more and more complex with one of the biggest clusters linked to residents living in the Times City Urban Complex and staff of T&T Company. The cluster is assessed to carry high risk as the source of infection has yet to be identified and more cases are being recorded.

A lot of buildings where patients and related cases live or visited are home to thousands of people like Park Hill Times City Block 9 and 11 in Hai Bà Trưng District; Ecohome 3, Goldmark City in Bắc Từ Liêm District; Vinhomes Ocean Park in Gia Lâm District; Center Point in Thanh Xuân District, and Gamuda Gardens, Gelexia Riverside in Hoàng Mai District.

Hà Nội has more than 1,400 old apartment buildings and urban complexes with high population density.

In most such complexes, residents share elevators, so one person testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 can affect thousands of others. Many high-end complexes run air-conditioners all the time in their lobbies and corridors, creating an ideal environment for the virus.

Preventing COVID-19 and ensuring safety for residents in lockdown are top priorities for apartment building’s management boards in Hà Nội now.

Nguyễn Thị Kim Oanh, head of the Block T3 residential group’s management board, Times City Urban Area, said the block had not reported any positive cases, however, the infection risk from neighbouring buildings is always high. T3 now has some F2 and F3 cases so the management board has taken preventive measures.

“We erected barriers at the gateway leading to the block’s lobby to limit motorbikes and cars coming in. We have also advised residents to switch from using fingerprints to resident cards to open the lobby’s security gate,” Oanh said.

“We regularly update the information on F2 and F3 cases living in the block on the Facebook group for residents so everyone can easily follow and take their own preventive measures,” she said.

In most apartment buildings in Hà Nội, hand sanitiser has been placed in front of elevators or reception desks so visitors can clean their hands before entering elevators. Disinfection is conducted regularly at lobbies and inside elevators. But although these measures are in place, some residents still feel worried.

A resident sanitises his hands before entering Gamuda Garden Apartment Complex in Hoàng Mai District. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hiếu

Phạm Hồng Ngọc, a resident at an urban area in Hoàng Mai District, said everyone enters the building without a temperature check. Some visitors, even residents, do not wear face masks or wear them incorrectly when in elevators.

Nguyễn Lan, another resident, said: “Each of us should raise our own awareness. For example, we should take the elevator in a group of five to six people only. Everyone should remind each other not to talk while being inside the elevator.”

Mạnh Thiết, a resident of Vinahud Urban Complex in Hai Bà Trưng District, said: “Since the resurgence of the fourth pandemic wave, residents living on the same floor as mine agreed not to let children play outside in public spaces, not to visit each other’s apartment and to talk to each other on group chats. We also tell each other not to take elevators if there are too many people inside.” — VNS