|Trương Định Street in HCM City. The city is under a 15-day lockdown period that started on July 9. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp|
HCM CITY — The number of COVID-19 cases in HCM City is expected to continue to rise due to extensive testing in high-risk areas such as export processing zones, industrial parks, hi-tech zones and rented apartments.
Dr Nguyễn Hoài Nam, deputy director of the HCM City Department of Health, said: “The number of cases has reached more than 1,000 every day for four consecutive days. But the number will decrease when testing is expanded to other less risky areas.”
The health sector is now focusing on testing in high-risk areas before expanding to other lower-risk areas. “The ultimate goal is to identify and isolate all COVID infections from the community to cut the chains of infections as soon as possible,” he said.
In a related move, 29 businesses operating in the Tân Thuận Export Processing Zone in District 7 were locked down after 275 workers tested positive for COVID after rapid antigen testing. Some 40,000 workers of 132 enterprises in the zone have been tested, according to the Health Department.
Nguyễn Hồng Tâm, deputy director in charge of the HCM City Centre for Disease Control (HCDC), asked District 7 authorities to suspend the operation of the entire zone to curb the spread of the virus.
The zone has been asked to enhance prevention measures, and trace and investigate contact cases, according to Tâm.
7,000 medical staff mobilised to HCM City
The Ministry of Health has announced that about 3,360 medical staff from central hospitals and 3,500 medical staff and students at medical schools across the country will be mobilised within this week to aid HCM City, as requested by the city government.
The move is part of the Health Ministry’s plan to mobilise 10,000 medical staff to aid the city.
The ministry has also mobilised 26 leaders of various departments and agencies to work with HCM City districts to implement pandemic prevention and control measures, 17 of whom are already in the city.
Nguyễn Trường Sơn, deputy Health Minister, who is in charge of supporting HCM City, has asked city leaders to work closely with ministry and local forces in COVID treatment.
Tăng Chí Thượng, deputy director of Department of Health, said the number of cases continued to increase, creating great pressure on treatment services.
An average of 1,000 beds, for example, requires about 200 medical staff.
Demand for medical human resources will continue to rise as the number of cases, including severely ill patients requiring treatment in ICUs, will continue to rise in coming days.
According to Thượng, the city needs an additional 1,500 doctors and 5,500 nurses for the treatment of COVID patients in field hospitals (asymptomatic or mild symptoms), hospitals (severe symptoms), and ICU centres (critically ill patients).
The city has plans to expand the treatment system with many large-scale field hospitals and 1,000 ICU beds to deal with the increasing number of cases which has reached more than 1,000 a day.
Priority for vaccination in fifth round
Speaking at a press conference on pandemic prevention on Monday, Nguyễn Hoài Nam, deputy director of the Department of Health, said in the fifth round of vaccination, the priority list includes people with chronic diseases and those over 65 years old, the poor, chartered groups of citizens (people subject to beneficiaries under State regulations due to their contributions).
Employees in essential services such as food and healthcare services, teachers and others will also be on the priority list.
Trần Quang Lâm, director of Department of Transport, said delivery people should also be a priority group for vaccinations in the city’s upcoming vaccination round because they play an important role in the circulation of goods during the lockdown and social distancing periods.
The Department of Health recommended that the city government include the relatives of medical staff (such as spouse, children, parents and siblings) at public and private healthcare facilities.
The Department of Transport plans to offer vaccinations to about 7,000 taxi drivers and 8,000 truck drivers. The city recently gave priority to more than 10,000 drivers, including truck drivers, taxi drivers and bus drivers.
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 this month going to the city.
According to the 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, all of which will be done in a 2-3 week period.
The 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.
According to Dr Nguyễn Hồng Tâm, deputy director of the HCM City Centre for Disease Control (HCDC), the city is currently treating 14,142 COVID patients.
Từ Lương, deputy director of the city Department of Information and Communications, said after four days of lockdown, the city received VNĐ3.31 billion in fines for 1,243 cases of violations, such as leaving home without a reasonable excuse.
HCM City has recorded some 15,000 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
|Medical workers take samples for COVID-19 testing in HCM City. VNA/VNS Photo|