Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam (second, left) talks with city district leaders at a field hospital in a residential area in Tân Thới Ward in HCM City's District 12. Photo Đình Nam
HCM CITY — The HCM City health sector has proposed reducing the time of hospitalisation for COVID-19 patients who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms to ten days to reduce hospital overcrowding amid the surging number of cases in the city.
Nguyễn Tấn Bỉnh, director of the city Health Department, has proposed specific testing conditions for F0 cases (COVID-19 patients) and F1 cases (close contacts of F0 cases) to the Special Standing Department for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
Under the proposal, F0 cases would be discharged from the hospital on the 10th day from the day of their positive test results if their RT-PCR test results are negative or positive but with a low viral load (CT>= 30) on the eighth day.
With the positive RT-PCR test results with a high viral load (CT< 30), the patients need to have an antigen rapid test on the 10th day. If the test is negative, they can be discharged from the hospital. If positive, they need another RT-PCR test for confirmation.
F1 cases (close contacts of F0) who have had either a negative RT-PCR test result or a positive result but with a low viral load (CT>= 30) would be discharged on the eighth day from the day they had contact with an F0 case.
For severely or critically ill COVID-19 cases, the regulations remain the same as prescribed by the Health Ministry. The patients remain in the hospital until recovery.
F1 cases who are under centralised quarantine are eligible for a 14-day home quarantine if they have a negative RT-PCR test result or a positive RT-PCR test but with a low viral load (CT>= 30) on the seventh day from the day they had contact with the F0 patient.
During the 14-day home quarantine, F1 cases will be tested on the seventh day, and on the 14th day they will have an antigen rapid test before the home quarantine ends.
As for COVID-19 vaccinations, the health department said that people over 65 years old or with underlying medical conditions must be vaccinated at hospitals and carefully screened after immunisation. Post-injection monitoring will last for 30 minutes.
For younger people, people with no medical conditions and others, the vaccination screening process will only include a check of body temperature and blood pressure. The post-injection monitoring for these groups will last for 15 minutes.
People of all ages will be asked if they have allergies or a history of anaphylaxis.
The department is currently planning the fifth round of vaccinations, providing more than 1.1 million doses, including to those who have received the first dose. The vaccines for the fifth round include AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer. The dates for the vaccination round have yet to be announced.
Nguyễn Hoài Nam, deputy director of the Department of Health, said the city has developed a four-level COVID-19 treatment model (from asymptomatic to mild, severe and critical symptoms).
Critically ill patients will be treated at one of four hospitals in the city: Oncology Hospital 2, Chợ Rẫy Hospital, Hospital for Tropical Diseases and Hospital 175.
Asymptomatic patients will be treated at field hospitals while cases classified as mild, moderate or severe will be treated at hospitals across the city.
“The city has enough ventilators and ECMO machines for treatment at the moment,” Nam said.
A number of companies have sponsored ventilators for the health sector. “One business funded hundreds of ventilators,” he added.
The city is currently treating more than 30,000 COVID patients. The health sector has prepared a scenario for 100,000 COVID-19 patients and plans to expand facilities for treatment.
The city has converted empty resettlement buildings into field hospitals to help cope with the surging numbers of COVID patients. More than 2,600 resettlement apartments are being used in the Thủ Thiêm New Urban Area in Thủ Đức City.
It has also set up an additional 24 field hospitals to ease the pressure on city hospitals. The Military Hospital 175 under the Ministry of National Defense on Monday opened a 200-bed centre for COVID treatment for moderately and severely ill patients. The centre has 42 doctors and 65 nurses and medical technicians.
Severe cases on the rise
Speaking at a meeting with the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control on Monday, Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long said the number of severe and critically ill patients was expected to rise over the next five or seven days.
Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính has ordered cities, especially HCM City, and provinces to continue to impose strict measures under Directive 16.
“People have been told to stay home unless extremely necessary, and do not gather with more than two people in public,” PM Chính said.
PM Chính earlier asked seven ministries to establish special working groups to support HCM City and southern provinces in their fight against the virus.
The seven ministries are National Defense, Industry and Trade, Agriculture and Rural Development, Transport, Construction, Information and Communications, and Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
HCM City has recorded more than 35,000 locally transmitted cases, the highest number in the country, since the end of April.
HCM City and 18 southern provinces are applying strict measures under Directive 16, which requires closure of non-essential businesses. Public transport has been suspended. — VNS
A locked-down area in Bình Thạnh District in HCM City. VNS Photo Bồ Xuân Hiệp