By Minh Phong – Translated by Kim Khanh
HÀ NỘI — Soldiers from the Vietnamese army’s chemical division on Thursday disinfected the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hà Nội after it became a COVID-19 hotspot.
The move came as Việt Nam reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday connected to the hospital in Đông Anh District, raising the number of infected cases there to 22.
Around 70 soldiers and 15 special vehicles were mobilised to spray more than 200,000 litres of disinfectant on 150,000sq.m of the hospital including campus, patient’s reception hall, examination area, emergency department and underground parking lot.
“This one is more dangerous in nature due to the variant of SARS-CoV-2,” said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Trần Văn Chung.
“We have been determined since the day the pandemic broke out again, especially before the news of the situation at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases’ branch in Đông Anh recently.”
Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said the virus could spread between departments in the hospital or infect patients’ relatives.
“The matter is being evaluated by concerned agencies,” Long said.
He added that the most important thing was that as soon as the incident was detected, the Ministry of Health (MoH) locked down the entire hospital and screened all staff as well as patients and their relatives.
The ministry also requested the hospital send a list of people who had been to the facility for medical examinations and treatment from April 15 to localities to trace, screen, isolate, and test.
Long said: “We have a lot of experience in this field. Bạch Mai Hospital was once isolated, but the scale of Bạch Mai Hospital is much larger than that of National Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
“We believe that localities should urgently trace people who have been in contact with people at the hospital and promptly handle the situation in accordance with MoH’s regulations.”
He said that lessons should be learned from this incident and it was necessary to review the isolation environment, quarantine and infection management.
After exchanging information with relevant agencies and experts, the MoH decided to extend the quarantine period from 14 to 21 days.
The minister emphasised the need to continue monitoring the health of people for seven days after they finished compulsory quarantine.
The testing capacity should be raised to up to five times to ensure the safety and prevent infection.
The MoH has requested hospitals to screen patients and health workers and implement necessary measures to avoid infection. — VNS
Hanoi is entering a more intense phase of the fight against the novel coronavirus and it would foil the city’s efforts if the fresh outbreak of Covid-19 is not well managed.
Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Chu Ngoc Anh has repeated the call on local residents to stay home “as much as possible” to avoid contagion of the new coronavirus, which is sweeping every part of the world.
It is the fourth time since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year that Hanoi has requested the public not to go out unnecessarily.
Locals should limit outdoor activities and have to wear facial masks when leaving home, practice social distancing of at least one meter, and move in one-way direction at supermarkets, the mayor said in a directive issued on May 5.
Hanoi has put the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Dong Anh district on lockdown to curb the spread of the disease and protect its medical workers.
The decision was taken a day after a male doctor at the hospital tested positive for the coronavirus during an overseas trip.
Covid-19 patients treated at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi. Photo: Ngoc Thanh
The National Hospital for Tropical Diseases has been responsible for handling all Covid-19 cases in the north since the nation’s first outbreak occurred early last year. Nearly 1,000 patients have been treated in the hospital so far.
Eight patients treated at the hospital for other diseases have been confirmed Covid-19 positive on Thursday, raising the number of cases linked to this hotspot to 22.
“This time is very important for the city to prevent Covid-19 transmission or face multiple inflections if we failed to contain the virus,” the mayor stressed.
Starting April 29, Vietnam has suffered a new Covid-19 community outbreak with different clusters in various localities. Before then, the nation had gone over a month free of community infections.
In the new outbreak, 64 locally-transmitted cases have been recorded in ten localities, including 14 each in northern provinces of Ha Nam and Vinh Phuc and 27 in Hanoi.
Vietnam has applied mandatory 21-day quarantine to all incoming people, both Vietnamese and foreigners. Before that, only people who came from or traveled across epidemic-hit areas, or those in close contact with the infected were required to undergo quarantine of only 14 days, implying potential risks of transmission in the community.
As Covid-19 concerns mount, Hanoi has asked its residents not to gather in large crowds in public, even for exercising and sporting activities.
A staff at My Dinh bus station in Hanoi propagates measures to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Ngo Nhung
Chairman Chu Ngoc Anh noted that residents should refrain from gathering in large number in public spaces, and should not exercise or play sports as a group in parks, gardens and other public spaces.
Any celebrations and other gatherings must strictly follow all coronavirus prevention measures, including making medical declarations and wearing masks, the mayor added.
The capital city has also suspended many non-essential services including karaoke, theaters and cinemas, massage parlors, gyms and dance clubs, sporting events, outdoor food eateries and cafes, among others.
On vehicles, passengers are required to sit one seat apart from each other and the number of passengers must not exceed half of the vehicle’s capacity.
Pharmacy employees who see people with symptoms like cough, fever and breathing difficulty while buying medicines should report them to local medical stations.
Hanoi currently has over 2,400 people under centralized quarantine and the city’s leader has asked health authorities to take samples of all people making contact with Covid-19 patients for tests.