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Covid-19 rate soars in Mekong Delta province after reverse migration

By Cuu Long   November 4, 2021 | 07:15 am PT
Covid-19 rate soars in Mekong Delta province after reverse migration
A medic takes the sample from a woman for the novel coronavirus testing in Bac Lieu, October 2021. Photo by Bac Lieu newspaper
The Covid-19 infection rate in Bac Lieu Province has jumped 10 times after many people returned from places previously hardest hit by Vietnam’s latest outbreak.

In the past 24 hours, the province has recorded 250 cases, raising the total number of cases in the fourth wave that started in late April to 4,480, 10 times higher than the figure recorded a month ago.

Bui Quoc Nam, director of the provincial Health Department, said the rapid increase in new Covid-19 cases has happened amongst the high numbers of people returning from Ho Chi Minh City and its neighboring provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An.

Within the first 10 days of October, 26,000 people had returned from those four localities, the most infected in the latest wave.

With the outbreak deemed under control in HCMC and the three provinces, all major industrial hubs that attract hundreds of thousands of workers from other parts of the country, social distancing measures were eased in early October, triggering a reverse migration of workers returning to their hometowns.

"The return of migrant workers is the main infection source as Bac Lieu had been one of the least infected localities in the Mekong Delta earlier," Nam said.

The returnees have made direct contact with their family members and neighbors and the people that have potentially been exposed to Covid-19 have continued to spread it to the community, especially among people working in factories and workshops.

"The situation has generated a huge pressure on the health system in Bac Lieu," Nam stressed.

"The medical infrastructure in the province is limited and the current resources are not sufficient to stem the outbreak, given such a sharp increase in the number of patients," he said.

Bac Lieu is preparing plans to treat 5,000 patients, but it needs support both in human resources and medical equipment.

Nam said the province is in need of 65 doctors, including 15 intensive care specialists, and 170 nurses.

For now, the province is capable of treating 100 critical cases, but if more patients turn severe, there will be a shortage of ventilators.

Since last week, two teams with 24 doctors and nurses from HCMC’s Cho Ray and Nguyen Tri Phuong hospitals have arrived in Bac Lieu. These are medics who have directly treated Covid-19 patients in HCMC, the epicenter of the latest wave with over 435,000 infections and more than 16,600 deaths as of Thursday.

Joining the backup team, doctor Nguyen Tri Thuc, director of Cho Ray Hospital, told VnExpress that if the outbreak in Bac Lieu is not put under control soon, the situation could be as bad as what had happened in HCMC, with infections without a clear transmission source spreading widely in the community.

With a population of 900,000, Bac Lieu has a vaccination rate of just 15.7 percent.

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