More effective COVID-19 prevention needed to protect hospitals

June 05, 2021 - 06:59

After wreaking havoc in a series of hospitals in the north in early May, COVID-19 infections are appearing at medical facilities in the south.


Gò Vấp hospital in HCM City temporarily stopped receiving outpatients from June 3. — VNA/VNS Photo An Hiếu

 Khánh Vân

After wreaking havoc in a series of hospitals in the north in early May, COVID-19 infections are appearing at medical facilities in the south.

It has forced the lockdown of two hospitals in HCM City four others to stop providing health check-ups and treatment for outpatients.

Last month, 10 key medical facilities in the north were locked down in the space of 10 days due to new cases, including the leading COVID-19 treatment facility of the northern region - the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hà Nội’s Đông Anh District.

This raised an alarm about safety within hospital and called for more effective prevention solutions for medical establishments which provide health check-ups and treatment for thousands of people.

When COVID-19 attacks a hospital where many patients suffering from underlying conditions are being treated, it could be deemed as more serious.

The outbreak in central Đà Nẵng City in July and August last year can be taken as an example. Many elderly patients with underlying conditions like diabetes or kidney failure became COVID-19 patients after the pandemic hit three major hospitals of the city. And Việt Nam recorded the first COVID-19 related death on July 31 last year, a 70-year-old man who was being treated at Đà Nẵng General Hospital, one of the three affected hospitals.

Not only patients but hundreds of medical workers who are on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 were quarantined or put at risk of infection.

It is now time to review COVID-19 prevention and control measures for medical establishments to find more effective solutions to ensure safety.

Hospitals should separate areas designed to check, test and treat COVID-19 patients or suspected cases with other areas in separate buildings, or at least separate entrances, to prevent cross infection.

It is also crucial to avoid overcrowding at hospitals by reducing the density of patients, equip medical staff with proper protective suits and provide regular training for all hospital staff to strictly follow prevention and control regulations. 

We can only protect the hospitals when patients and medical staff are protected as well.

In the latest move, HCM City’s Health Department has required all medical establishments to take samples of all new inpatients and their relatives for COVID-19 testing. Hospitals are also ordered to have separate entrances for those who come for COVID-19 screening.

The city has recorded more new cases of COVID-19, forcing it to implement social distancing across the city for two weeks, starting on Monday.

Vaccine efforts

The past week also saw the Government and relevant ministries and agencies’ efforts to search for COVID-19 vaccines in order to fulfil the country’s goal of reaching herd immunity in Việt Nam by the end of 2021.

The health ministry has to date approved AstraZeneca, Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines and China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, Vero Cellfor, for emergency use.

The Prime Minister on May 26 issued a decision on the establishment of the COVID-19 vaccine fund and it is expected to be officially launched on June 5. The fund aims to call on support from all of society, businesses, people inside and outside of the country and international organisations. The money will be used to purchase vaccines and to develop Vietnamese vaccines.

According to Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long, Việt Nam, to achieve herd immunity (having at least 75 per cent of the population inoculated against COVID-19) in a near 100 million-strong population, would require 150 million vaccine doses this year, which may cost more than US$1 billion.

Deputy Minister of Health Trương Quốc Cường told a government meeting on Thursday that Việt Nam will secure a total of 170 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the future.

Many organisations, agencies, businesses and individuals over the past few days have raised funds to support the country’s vaccine efforts. The fund’s management board reported that as of Thursday, the fund received donations worth almost VNĐ103 billion (US$4.45 million).

However, all the amounts put together will still be a far cry from what is needed. This requires not only support but also responsibility from the whole society to help achieve the goals of this government-led drive.

Silent contribution

The past few days also witnessed more doctors and nurses from localities across the country heading to Bắc Giang – the hardest hit locality so far – to help the northern province deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

We also saw people across the nations join medical workers’ efforts to curb the pandemic. Apart from making financial contributions, many organisations and individuals volunteer to prepare meals to send to medical workers, particularly those working in Bắc Giang Province. A programme on providing meals for medical workers at Bắc Giang General Hospital was launched on Wednesday, funded by a large number of organisations and individuals, aiming to provide 10,000 meals worth VNĐ50,000 each to medical workers in 20 days to support them in the fight against the pandemic. All the meals will be prepared by professional chefs in Hà Nội.

The fight against COVID-19 may remain long, but the outbreak has been temporarily put under control in Việt Nam thanks to all out efforts of the whole nation.

The northern province of Bắc Ninh, which is also hard hit by the pandemic, on Wednesday launched a production-residence-combined model in which workers don’t leave their factories after work or stay together at concentrated accommodations like dorms, hotels or schools. The move is expected to help authorities and employers with COVID-19 prevention and control while companies’ production will not be disrupted. 

We have done well in the fight against the virus but we still need to do more and need to stay vigilant to win. As Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính said at a Government meeting on Thursday that the outbreaks are "basically" under control, but there are still very concerning developments in the hotspots and urged people and State agencies to exercise utmost caution and the highest levels of prevention and control measures. — VNS