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Go all out against most dangerous Covid-19 wave: experts

By Le Phuong, Thuy An, Le Nga, Thuy Quynh   May 11, 2021 | 12:21 am PT
Go all out against most dangerous Covid-19 wave: experts
The military sprays disinfectants at Hanoi's National Hospital for Tropical Diseases for Covid-19 prevention, May 6, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Experts say Vietnam needs to pull out all the stops in fighting its most dangerous Covid-19 wave yet, especially with a peak likely in the next two weeks.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Vietnam had recorded 502 Covid-19 community cases in the fourth coronavirus wave that has swept through the country since late last month.

On Monday, the nation recorded 125 community transmissions, the highest number in a single day since the pandemic first appeared in Vietnam last year.

Le Quoc Hung, head of the Tropical Disease Department at HCMC's Cho Ray Hospital, said the number of cases might peak in the next two weeks as nearly all outbreaks have been identified and isolated, meaning there are not too many potential cases "roaming" in the community.

New cases would be recorded in the next two weeks in the already isolated areas, but they would not be able to infect members of the community, normally. However, different factors might affect such a conjecture, Hung said.

"In order to contain outbreaks, all close contacts must be found so the chain of transmission can be cut off," he added.

Truong Huu Khanh, a doctor with HCMC's Children Hospital 1, said the number of new cases was rising and may continue doing so in the coming days, and more outbreaks should be expected as well. But if authorities can keep up with the contact tracing and isolation, the coronavirus can be contained within the next two weeks, he said.

"If either the authorities don't intervene or additional factors negatively affect the Covid-19 fight in the next two weeks, the disease might flare up even stronger than before," Khanh said.

"Authorities' actions and citizens' attitude in the next two weeks would be the deciding factors," he added.

Strongholds affected

The new Covid-19 wave is "more dangerous than previous waves," given the rising number of new cases and outbreaks in multiple locations, Hung said. The fact that different localities with no obvious connections have recorded outbreaks at the same time means there are multiple infection sources, he added.

Nguyen Lan Hieu, director of the Hanoi Medical University Hospital, said the new wave has managed to infect vital facilities like hospitals, forcing medical workers to be isolated as well, which affects the Covid-19 fight.

Especially worrying is the fact that the virus could infect ICUs, endangering patients who are already vulnerable to infections. The hospitals' high traffic rate also means contact tracing and cross-infection management efforts would become more difficult, Hieu said.

"Hospitals are our strongholds in the coronavirus fight. When the disease gets inside hospitals, the chances of cross-infection are are high, both within and between hospitals themselves. As we have seen with Hanoi's K Hospital and the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, several cases have been connected to each other," he noted.

Nguyen Huy Nga, former head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health, said experts had anticipated the new wave, but it has proved more dangerous than thought, even infecting several frontline hospitals, which means that patients with other serious diseases like cancer, would have their diagnoses and treatments delayed.

When the number of patients increases, so does the burden on the medical system, and this can lead to reduced treatment effectiveness and higher death rates, Hung said.

Tran Dac Phu, advisor to the Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC), said that as Vietnam's Covid-19 vaccination campaign hasn't covered a wide enough population segment, prevention measures are still the most important factor in the Covid-19 fight. Mass testing should also help detect asymptomatic cases in the community, vital for extinguishing outbreaks, he added.

Vietnam's past coronavirus successes have also provided valuable lessons in fighting the pandemic, Hung said, adding that if authorities hadn't been doing a good job, the number of new cases would have ballooned to much higher levels than seen to date.

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