HCMC inspectors to visit Covid-19 quarantine facilities unannounced

By Huu Cong   December 3, 2020 | 11:15 pm PT
HCMC inspectors to visit Covid-19 quarantine facilities unannounced
A staff disinfects a university dormitory in HCMC's Thu Duc District to give space for quarantine people suspected to have Covid-19, March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
HCMC will conduct surprise inspections at Covid-19 quarantine facilities and shut those found in breach of safety protocols following new community transmissions.

The city’s chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong made the request at a meeting on preventing and fighting Covid-19 on Thursday.

Inspections would be applied to all types of facility, either centralized camps managed by the military and local authorities or paid facilities, which include hotels and resorts approved to serve those returning from abroad, Phong said.

His demand follows the latest outbreak in the city triggered by a 28-year-old Vietnam Airlines flight attendant, tagged "patient 1342," who violated his quarantine terms to end the country’s 89- and HCMC’s 120-day streak with no community transmissions.

"Patient 1342 had left his residence after being quarantined at home, and now a series of people have to be isolated since they had come in contact with him," Phong said.

The chairman requested the municipal Health Department to review all centralized facilities to limit the number of self-quarantine cases.

From now on, the city’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention has to make available its list of those quarantined at home and their addresses to local authorities.

The heads of those localities would be held accountable should further self-isolation rules be broken.

"Not all patients are honest in their health declarations. Patient 1342 had joined a class and eaten out during the time he was quarantined at home but did not inform authorities at the time he was confirmed positive."

HCMC police on Thursday launched a criminal investigation into his breach of Covid-19 quarantine protocols, which lead to the infection of at least three others.

Returning to Vietnam from Japan on November 14, he was first quarantined at a facility owned and operated by Vietnam Airlines.

Under Covid-19 prevention protocols, flight crews must isolate themselves on returning to Vietnam. But he went to another quarantine area and contracted the virus from another crew member who had returned from Romania.

This went undetected. After two tests showed he was negative for the coronavirus, he was released after four days and was asked to isolate himself at home on Bach Dang Street, Tan Binh District.

At home, "patient 1342" came into contact with his mother and two friends, including a Vietnamese man working as an English teacher who came to stay over for several days.

The flight attendant was confirmed a Covid-19 patient on Saturday, and the teacher on Monday. The teacher has spread the virus to two others in his circle, his one-year-old nephew and a 28-year-old student.

The flight attendant later told authorities he had left home on November 21 to eat out in Phu Nhuan District and then visited Hutech University in Binh Thanh District on November 22.

Over 170,000 students and teachers at dozens of schools have been asked to stay home after some of them had contact with the flight attendant and the teacher.

"It has been only five days since the first case of community transmission was detected in the city and it needs up to 14 days for us to tell if the outbreak will be contained," Phong said.

The city has so far tracked down 852 first generation infections (F1) of patient 1342, and 1,492 who are F2.

Of these, 2,196 have been tested, with the teacher, his nephew and a student confirmed positive while 1,344 have tested negative. The rest are pending.

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