HCMC urged to consider self-quarantine to ease burden in centralized camps

By Huu Cong   June 26, 2021 | 02:30 am PT
HCMC urged to consider self-quarantine to ease burden in centralized camps
An official guides a man on protocols he should follow to quarantine himself at home in HCMC, February, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van.
With infections on the rise, HCMC should let people coming into contact with Covid-19 patients self-isolate, said Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son.

The move should reduce the density in centralized quarantine facilities, Son told a meeting with the city Friday.

The meeting took place at a time when the southern metropolis had recorded more than 2,300 Covid-19 cases and in 24 hours as of Friday, detected as many as 667 infections.

Currently, the city has placed more than 12,000 people into centralized quarantine aside from having 26,000 isolate themselves at home and elsewhere.

Protocols require that those coming into direct contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases, those returning from abroad and, in some cases, Covid-hit areas, to be quarantined. Since early May, authorities have extended the quarantine period from 14 to 21 days.

People in quarantine camps need to pay VND80,000 ($3.48) a day for food, with exemption for the poor.

With the number of confirmed cases rising steadily in the city, the number of people taken into quarantine in recent days has increased "sharply," causing difficulties for staff at those facilities, especially at the Vietnam National University HCMC dormitory, said Son.

"With 2,000 people in quarantine there, medical workers said they are all exhausted and that stagnant medical waste remains uncollected," he said.

The Ministry of Health had already signed a statement Thursday to allow local authorities to quarantine people who came into direct contact with Covid patients at their own residences.

Therefore, Ho Chi Mnih City should classify those people and in case anyone qualifies to quarantine themselves at home, they should be allowed to stay home.

Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy director of the city’s Health Department, said the city will apply the self-quarantine method in a trial run first.

Allowing people to quarantine at home will make the process less stressful and at the same time, save administrators some effort, he said.

Tran Dac Phu, a senior advisor to the Public Health Emergency Operations Center, told VnExpress earlier this month that for the self-quarantine protocols, officials need to categorize people into two groups, high-risk and low-risk, and send only the former to government quarantine.

The high-risk group would comprise those who stayed in close proximity to a Covid patient in closed, air-conditioned places without masks, while low-risk people would have kept a distance, worn masks and met patients outdoors, he said.

But the self-quarantining option should only be allowed in areas where government facilities are overloaded, and medical personnel should be trained well to make this decision, said Phu.

Several other experts have also told VnExpress they support the self-quarantine method since having too many people in centralized camps could pose a high risk of cross infection.

However, they warn authorities should come up with effective methods to manage the people subjected to self-quarantine, maybe with advanced monitor technologies, to ensure safety.

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