Ho Chi Minh City warns about high risk of large Covid-19 outbreak

Ho Chi Minh City is at high risk of coping with a large outbreak because tens of thousands of people returned to the city from their hometowns or tourist destinations after a recent public holiday, heard an urgent meeting of the city’s authorities on Monday.
May 11, 2021 | 09:32
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Ho Chi Minh City warns about high risk of large Covid-19 outbreak
A large number of people return to Ho Chi Minh City from their hometowns or tourist destinations after a recent public holiday, posing a high risk of a large outbreak. Photo taken on May 3 by Thanh Nien

“We must be highly vigilant against a possible large outbreak of Covid-19 in the city,” Ho Chi Minh City chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong told the meeting of the municipal Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, referring to recent relapse cases which were detected after individuals left quarantine facilities.

He noted that Ho Chi Minh City typically hosts large numbers of people in concentrated quarantine facilities of various sizes, thereby making it easier for cross-transmission to occur in these areas.

He added that these individuals could still pose a threat of carrying the virus and spreading it to the local community, even after completing a mandatory quarantine period and recording negative tests.

Another risk comes from hospitals which receive large numbers of patients and their relatives from across the country each day. In addition, the southern city is also at high risk from acts of illegal entry across borders via air, sea, and land routes, according to Phong.

The city leader said he was “genuinely worried” perusing the national list of local infections recorded since that date, when Vietnam detected the first domestic case after having spent about a month finding no transmission in the community.

Ho Chi Minh City warns about high risk of large Covid-19 outbreak
Ho Chi Minh City chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong chairs the meeting of the municipal Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and Control on Monday. Photo Nguoi Lao Dong

"Pandemic control is the top priority of the city at the moment," the chairman underlined, adding that all government agencies have to roll up their sleeves.

“An outbreak will shatter all of our work plans,” chairman Phong remarked.

He underlined the need to swiftly reestablish road traffic checkpoints whilst strictly observing relevant COVID-19 rules at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, as well as 60 seaports, hospitals, and industrial parks throughout the city.

Ho Chi Minh City warns about high risk of large Covid-19 outbreak
Covid-19 prevention and control regulations are strictly observed at Tan Son Nhat Airport. Photo Dan Tri

Ho Chi Minh City established 62 similar checkpoints in April 2020, when Vietnam enforced extensive social distancing rules because of a serious outbreak.

The municipal administration dismantled them after three weeks, when the virus had been kept at bay.

Ho Chi Minh City warns about high risk of large Covid-19 outbreak
A checkpoint set up in Ho Chi Minh City last April. Photo Ha Noi Moi

Furthermore, a request has been made that the local health sector prepare all resources, including increasing testing capacity, as part of efforts to deal with the worst-case scenario.

Those arriving in Ho Chi Minh City from outbreak sites have to file health declarations at such checkpoints, Phong was quoted by VnExpress as saying.

Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the local Department of Health said “We’re working on plans to build a 5,000-bed field hospital while practicing for a scenario where we’d have to treat 30,000 coronavirus patients at a time, as required by the prime minister.” ./.

Ho Chi Minh City has recorded only one Covid-19 case during the new wave so far. That was a 28-year-old man who travelled to the city from Hà Nam Province on April 29.

The city has taken necessary preventive measures.

All 500 karaoke parlors, 180 bars, and discotheques in the city must close starting 6 p.m April 30 as part of efforts to stem the Covid-19 spread.

Visitors to the city are requested to wear face masks. If visitor’s body temperature is below 37.5 degrees C three times, he/she is eligible to enter the tourist sites but still needs to self-monitor health condition during the trip. Those who display symptoms need to immediately report to the tourist sites’ management boards.

If visitor’s body temperature is above 37.5 degrees C three times, he/she is not allowed to enter the tourist sites and needs to wait for medical workers to handle.

If visitors coming to accommodation establishments have fever of more than 37.5 degrees C, they are not permitted to stay at.

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