Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam, head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, inspects pandemic prevention measures at a field hospital in HCM City's District 12. Photo courtesy of the HCM City Press Centre
HCM CITY — Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam has ordered HCM City authorities to tighten COVID-19 prevention measures at field hospitals and lockdown areas while ensuring food supply at supermarkets during the 15-day lockdown period starting Friday under Directive 16.
Đam, who is head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, spoke during his inspection of pandemic-prevention measures at field hospital No. 2 for COVID treatment in District 12.
Đam said the situation remains complex with cases expected to increase in coming days. He said the city should use more resettlement houses, large land plots, and factories to set up field hospitals for COVID treatment of people who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
A representative of field hospital No 2, which uses a resettlement apartment building in Tân Thới Nhất Ward, said the 2,500-bed hospital received 2,300 COVID-19 patients after three days of operation.
The city has four field hospitals with a total of 12,000 beds that treat asymptomatic patients. Another 12 hospitals with a total capacity of 5,000 beds treat patients with mild symptoms.
Đam demanded the city ensure that people’s lives, especially the poor, would not be seriously affected.
He told city leaders to enhance prevention measures under Directive 16 while maintaining production and business at the highest possible level.
The city must work with the Ministry of Transport and neighbouring provinces to ensure goods circulation between the city and other provinces and facilitate testing for the drivers who travel between provinces.
Food supply ensured
Prior to the strict lockdown period, many people have been flocking to supermarkets for fear of shortages, creating unsafe crowding in stores.
Online purchases have increased by two to 10 times in recent days compared to before, and by three times at supermarkets. Some items are out of stock due to crowds of shoppers.
Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, Nguyễn Thành Phong, chairman of the People’s Committee, said that supply chains in the city remained stable despite closures of several wholesale markets. Goods are stocked up to 120,000 tonnes a month.
He encouraged people to shop online.
Up to 106 markets, 124 traditional markets, and more than 2,000 mini-markets and convenience stores across the city will be used to ensure sufficient supply of food and essential items for residents.
Representatives of supermarkets said they were working hard to supply goods to consumers.
10,000 medical staff mobilised
Speaking at the meeting on Wednesday, Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said that 10,000 medical staff will be sent to HCM City.
The ministry will also set up 24 working groups for all districts and Thủ Đức City to tackle the outbreak.
Earlier, more than 3,300 medical officers and staff from units under the Ministry of Health and students from medical universities arrived in the city to help fight the outbreak.
The ministry has sent seven task forces to seven pandemic hotspots (Đồng Nai, Bình Dương, Quảng Ngãi, Phú Yên, Đồng Tháp, Long An, and Tiền Giang provinces).
“The pandemic hotspots must be well prepared for all scenarios and response plans to cope with the spread caused by the highly transmissible Delta variant,” Long said.
He said that HCM City should increase rapid testing in locked-down areas every three days, and in high-risk areas every week.
Long recommended that all people coming for medical examination and treatment at medical facilities must be tested in order to detect COVID cases.
Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam, head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, inspects a locked-down area in District 12. Photo courtesy of the HCM City Press Centre
As for treatment, experts predict that the number of COVID-related deaths are expected to rise in coming days.
The ministry has directed provinces and cities considered as pandemic hotspots to set up Intensive Care Centres (ICUs) for critically ill COVID-19 patients.
Two ICU centres should be set up, one in Đồng Nai Province and the other in Cần Thơ City, to treat critically ill patients in the Southeastern and Mekong Delta regions, according to the ministry.
Consumers queue to enter a supermarket in HCM City to prevent overcrowding and the spread of COVID-19. Photo courtesy of the HCM City Press Centre
No takeaway services
HCM City, home to 13 million people, will apply social distancing under Directive 16, which was enforced nationwide during the early days of the pandemic last year. It requires the closure of non-essential services and businesses, as well as takeaway services.
Public transport and ride-hailing services will be stopped and movement between different areas within the city will be restricted.
Takeaway food services, which were allowed under Directive 16 last year, must also cease during the 15-day lockdown.
Phong said he believed that the outbreak could be contained if all the measures were strictly implemented. — VNS