HCMC hospitals on high alert amid threat of new Covid-19 transmissions

By Le Phuong, Thuy An, Anh Thu   December 2, 2020 | 12:29 am PT
HCMC hospitals on high alert amid threat of new Covid-19 transmissions
A nurse checks body temperature of a man coming for a health check at Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital in HCMC's District 5, December 1, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Thu Anh.
Hospitals in HCMC have been requested to tighten control measures to prevent Covid-19 from intruding after the city recorded three community transmissions.

"The city’s health sector will do everything it can not to let infections spread among hospitals," Tang Chi Thuong, deputy director of HCMC Health Department, told an urgent meeting with 129 city hospitals Tuesday.

Hospitals have been requested to coordinate with each other and city health authorities to quarantine and test everyone that had visited localities frequented by "patient 1347", even though they may not show any Covid-19 symptoms such as coughing or fever.

On Monday, Vietnam's 89-day streak without any community transmission was broken when a Ho Chi Minh City man who works as an English teacher was confirmed a Covid-19 patient after contracting the virus from his friend, a flight attendant of Vietnam Airlines now "patient 1342."

The English teacher, now tagged "patient 1347," later infected two others, his one-year-old nephew and a student.

HCMC's streak of zero locally transmitted cases had reached 120 consecutive days before the new infections were reported.

Hospitals are demanded to tighten measures to prevent the spread of the diseases among doctors, patients, families taking care of hospitalized members, and staff hired by companies to provide outsource services.

Everyone across hospital precincts must wear face masks, have their body temperature checked and hands disinfected, as well as complete health procedures before entering hospitals.

Medical examination and emergency departments in each hospital have to screen and classify all those coming for health checks and treatment to separate those with suspicious Covid-19 symptoms.

As guided, those yet to be approved to run the new coronavirus test will collect samples and send them to the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

Hospitals also need to develop scenarios to respond to a possible outbreak. So far, the city has tracked 960 people that have contacted the four latest patients in HCMC, including the flight attendant, for isolation and testing. By Wednesday morning, it has been announced 737 of them have tested negative once with the remaining results still pending.

During the most recent wave of community infection which hit Vietnam in late July, hospitals in central Da Nang City had quickly become clusters, with cases spreading from patients visiting hospitals to other patients and then to family members taking care of those patients, along with medical workers.

Prior to that wave, Hanoi’s Bach Mai Hospital faced just the same problem in March and April after external catering staff spread the virus to nurses and then patients at the hospital.

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