HCMC fears quarantine space inadequate as Covid numbers grow

By Huu Cong, Dinh Van   June 8, 2021 | 06:54 pm PT
HCMC fears quarantine space inadequate as Covid numbers grow
A man prepares beds at a centralized quarantine camp in HCMC, May 29, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
With the number Covid-19 infections rising steadily in HCMC, district authorities are worried about not having enough space to quarantine people coming into contact with patients.

Starting with a cluster that emerged in May at a Christian congregation, Go Vap District has become the city’s Covid-19 epicenter and, with more than 90 patients, leads in the number of infections.

Its government quarantine facility has a capacity of 120 beds and already has 113 people.

Nguyen Trung Hoa, director of the district medical center, said as mass testing continues, it should be expected that more would be sent to quarantine.

Go Vap has set up another facility with 80 beds but even that might not be enough, he warned.

Covid prevention regulations require, besides people coming into contact with patients, also those returning from abroad and, in some cases, from Covid-hit areas to be quarantined for 21 days.

Binh Thanh District, with the second highest number of infections at 49, has almost 500 in a quarantine facility that can accommodate 585.

To prepare for the worst, the district has set up quarantine facilities with 200-300 beds at schools, which are now having their summer break.

Nguyen Tri Dung, director of the city Center for Disease Control (HCDC), said an average of 31 new cases are being diagnosed daily.

On average each patient would have had direct contact with 20 others, which means 600 must be quarantined every day, he said.

"With the quarantine period rising to 21 days [from 14 until early May], it takes longer for each person to finish their quarantine."

In Thu Duc City, the number of infections increased rapidly from 11 on May 31 to 42 on June 7.

As of June 7 its six quarantine camps with a total of 1,200 beds had 817 inmates.

Thu Duc chairman Hoang Tung said finding enough space for quarantines is now a "big challenge" and admitted that if more cases are confirmed in the coming days there would be no more place.

Tan Phu District has a quarantine with 140 beds that is full, but unlike other districts it lacks a large hospital that can be used for quarantining people.

The city health department expects 40-45 new cases daily following the second test it did on Sunday on people who had come into direct contact with patients.

"Most are in quarantine or areas that have been isolated and so cannot spread the virus into the community," its director, Nguyen Tan Binh, said at a meeting Monday.

Dung said health authorities are looking to increase the quarantine capacity to at least 200 people in each district.

There are now 23 facilities with 2,500 beds managed by districts and five others with 3,700 beds managed by the city or military.

City vice chairman Duong Anh Duc said hotels are already allowed to serve as quarantines and he has told districts around Tan Phu to support it by providing their hotels.

On Tuesday he signed a decision to set up two more quarantine camps, one with 1,000 beds at a military training school in District 12 and the other with 150 beds at a dormitory at the HCMC Education University in District 11.

Binh also said the capacity of the five facilities not managed by district authorities would be increased.

With 39 new cases confirmed on Tuesday, the southern metro now has the third highest number in the country, 461, after Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces.

It has 7,770 people in government quarantines while 13,714 others are self-quarantining at home and hotels.

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