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HCMC mulls reopening Covid quarantine facilities amid resurgence

By Huu Cong, Le Tuyet   November 17, 2021 | 08:30 pm PT
HCMC mulls reopening Covid quarantine facilities amid resurgence
A Covid-19 quarantine zone in HCMC's Phu Nhuan District, July 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van
HCMC health authorities want to reopen Covid-19 quarantine facilities they had closed earlier as the number of cases resurges in the southern metropolis.

In the last two weeks the number of daily new cases in Ho Chi Minh City has been rising, reaching around 1,000 last week.

Nguyen Hong Tam, director of the HCMC Center for Disease Control (CDC), said most new cases are in districts like Binh Chanh, Hoc Mon and Nha Be.

The main cause is workers returning to work at industrial parks and many have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Tam said.

"As contact tracing efforts ensue, more cases are found in various places."

HCMC now has around 64,000 infections, with over 47,000 people being treated at home.

New mobile medical stations have been set up and authorities also want to reopen quarantine facilities and other medical facilities if there are more cases.

Vo Phan Le Nguyen, deputy chairman of the Nha Be, said more cases are being found though his district is classified as only ‘medium risk’. Over the past week Nha Be has recorded 543 new cases, including 205 people who were infected at workplaces outside the district.

Nguyen said with the easing of restrictions, people are traveling more often and bringing back the contagion to the district.

Many still neglect preventive measures, and some businesses even allow infected workers to return home without informing authorities, increasing the risk, he said.

"Workers living in small houses also means increased infection risk."

Infected people who could not be quarantined safely at home would have to go to quarantine facilities, he said.

At the peak of the pandemic Nha Be had five quarantine facilities with over 1,200 beds, but now only two are left, one each in a high school and a vocational school, he said.

"By the end of this month the district will restore the high school back to its original purpose, so the only quarantine zone afterward will be the vocational school with around 180 beds."

The district is looking for more places to set up temporary quarantine facilities amid the resurgence in cases, he said.

The incidence of Covid is also rising in Hoc Mon District. Duong Hong Thang, its chairman, said the district had mainly used schools for quarantine, but authorities are also looking for other places now.

"The quarantine facilities will be mainly used to house workers who cannot isolate themselves safely."

Businesses also support the reopening of quarantine facilities amid the rising number of cases in industrial parks. At the 17 industrial parks in the city, the number of new infections averages 50-70 a day.

A spokesperson for Pouyuen Vietnam in Binh Tan District said infections have been detected at the factory after workers began to return, and many of them wish to go to quarantine facilities since their living quarters are unsafe for isolation.

Dao Quoc Cuong, administrative director of Juki Vietnam in District 7, said, "Having quarantine facilities in districts with large numbers of workers is very important."

Industrial parks have been quickly setting up quarantine and treatment facilities themselves in preparation.

Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy director of the city Department of Health, said not all Covid cases could be safely isolated at home, which necessitates quarantine facilities.

While the incidence of the disease is rising in HCMC, the situation remains under control, he assured.

People however must still keep their guard up and prepare for any eventuality, he warned.

By August the city had had around 200 quarantine facilities with over 37,000 beds, but many were shut down as the pandemic began to be contained.

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