Gov’t gives HCM City priority for upcoming vaccinations, close contacts isolate at home

July 13, 2021 - 06:40
HCM City, the country’s COVID epicentre, will be given priority for Covid-19 vaccines, with 25 per cent of the total vaccine doses received in July going to the city, according to Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính.


Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính speaks with functional forces about Directive 16 in Tân Phú Ward in Thủ Đức City on Sunday afternoon. — Photo courtesy of the HCM City Press Centre

HCM CITY — HCM City, the country’s COVID epicentre, will be given priority for COVID-19 vaccines, with 25 per cent of the total vaccine doses received in July going to the city, according to Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính.

Speaking at a meeting with city officials on Sunday, PM Chính said: “The city needs to conduct vaccinations effectively and on schedule.”

He said the city should set a target of providing at least two million doses for its residents by the end of July.

He noted that the implementation of Directive 16 has affected locals’ lives and economic activities, but expressed his hope that people would sympathise with the city and the Government.

The city must take more drastic actions and prioritise resources to bring the city back to normal. People’s lives and property are a top priority, and there should be equal access to the vaccine for all residents, according to Chính.

The city should provide support to those who have lost their jobs and the homeless in a more timely manner, ensuring that no one is left behind, while promoting production and business activities, he said.

1.1 million doses sent to HCM City

According to the city Department of Health, the fifth round of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign will start soon with an initial expected number of 1.1 million doses, which will be done in a 2-3 week period.

It is unknown, however, when the fifth round will start.

According to the HCM City Centre for Disease Control (HCDC), the vaccines include one million out of two million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the US government under the Covax programme and 100,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine obtained from Japanese Government funding.

The group of people prioritised for the fifth round are “vulnerable people” and those located in high-risk and very high-risk locations in city districts, in addition to priority groups under Resolution 21, according to the ministry.

The city will organise 630 vaccination locations in 312 wards and communes across city districts. Each site will vaccinate 120 people a day (from 8am-1pm and 3-8pm daily) to ensure proper social distance. 

The city will also designate a number of hospitals eligible to vaccinate at-risk people who have underlying medical conditions such as those with chronic disease.

The city will take advantage of the lockdown period to speed up the vaccination scheme, as well as enhance screening tests and tracing of contacts of COVID cases.

HCM City on June 19 began the fourth phase of its vaccination drive at 1,000 sites across city districts. The city has vaccinated a total of 991,322 people, including 943,215 with one dose and 48,107 two doses, according to city authorities.

F1 home isolation 

Speaking at a meeting with city leaders on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam urged the Ministry of Health to work with HCM City to issue updated guidelines for home isolation of F1 cases (close contacts of COVID-19 patients) as soon as possible.  

The move aims to reduce the risk of cross-infection at concentrated medical isolation facilities, which have been overloaded.

The city has been piloting home medical isolation for F1 contacts in some districts.

In addition to 11 concentrated isolation areas, the city plans to use five resettlement apartment buildings in the Thủ Thiêm new urban area to set up a field hospital with 18,000 beds. 

Đam said that treatment of medical hazardous waste at concentrated isolation areas must be done properly. 

He also asked the Ministry of Health to remove obstacles in the supply of medical materials and equipment for all hospitals in the city.

Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam speaks at Monday virtual meeting with HCM City's leaders.. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Điệp

Nguyễn Hữu Hiệp, head of the city Party Committee’s Mass Mobilisation Department, said the city has plans to isolate F1 cases at home with a scenario of 20,000 F0 cases and 200,000 F1 cases. 

The capacity of the concentrated isolation areas has reached about 70 per cent. 

“The city has asked the Ministry of Health to give further guidance on isolation of F1 cases at home in apartment buildings and newly built houses, with supervision from 17,000 community COVID groups. 

“However, F1 cases living in small houses in small alleys or in densely populated hostels must still be isolated in concentrated isolation areas to ensure safety.”

As for COVID treatment, Đam asked the city to shift from limiting the number of F0 cases to limiting the number of deaths.

The city must closely monitor asymptomatic patients being treated in field hospitals in case symptoms worsen quickly, he said.

HCM City has recorded more than 14,400 locally transmitted cases since the outbreak began in late April. The country has faced a more challenging outbreak this year, with a surge in daily cases reaching record levels, requiring the government to speed up the pace of vaccinations. — VNS