Hanoi, Saigon ramp up quarantine for citizens returning from South Korea

By Le Phuong, Chi Le   March 2, 2020 | 12:24 am PT
Hanoi, Saigon ramp up quarantine for citizens returning from South Korea
A nurse walks near an isolation room at a HCMC field hospital that serves as a novel coronavirus quarantine center, February 7, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nhu Quynh.
Over 2,000 Vietnamese and foreign citizens are currently in quarantine after returning to Hanoi and Saigon from South Korea, with more field hospitals planned.

In HCMC, Vietnam's southern metropolis, about 220 people are quarantined at Cu Chi field hospital.

The facility has 300 beds and divides quarantine rooms by sex, according to Nguyen Tri Dung, director of HCMC Center for Disease Control. Quarantine areas are equipped with TVs and free Wi-Fi connection.

"Three free meals are served a day while clothes are washed following medical protocol. The hospital has also installed a guidelines in both Korean and Chinese," Dung said.

Doctors use Google Translate in communicating with foreigners currently in isolation.

Dung said HCMC is establishing a second quarantine zone to hold additional arrivals from coronavirus-hit areas.

City authorities said they would continue to require those entering Vietnam from South Korea or having passed through the country to submit a health declaration.

Vietnamese citizens arriving from South Korea who have registered their temporary residence in HCMC will be brought home and monitored there.

Hoang Duc Hanh, deputy director of Hanoi Department of Health, said the city has placed 1,764 people returning from South Korea in quarantine zones managed by the capital’s military command.

Among them, 12 people have shown signs of coughing and have been transferred to the Hospital for Tropical Disease in Dong Anh District.

Hanh said if the outbreak explodes, medical facilities in Hanoi could provide 5,000 beds to treat Covid-19 patients. General hospitals across Hanoi have established 40 quick response teams to assist smaller facilities in need.

"The Department of Health and the capital’s military command have submitted the plan to build two field hospitals with a capacity of 600 beds each to city authorities," it was added.

There are about 22,000 Vietnamese working in South Korea, where the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is second only to China. More than 4,212 people in this country were diagnosed with Covid-19 as of Monday.

A Vietnamese living in South Korea’s Daegu, the local epicenter, has been infected with the novel coronavirus.

Vietnam has reported 16 infection cases of the coronavirus, including three in HCMC. All have recovered and left hospital. The country has reported no new infections since February 13.

The global death toll on Sunday climbed to 3,044, mostly in China, followed by 54 in Iran, 34 in Italy and 22 in South Korea. The U.S., Australia and Vietnam's neighbor Thailand reported their first deaths over the weekend.

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