Saigon works hard to keep Covid-19 cases below 100

By Huu Nguyen, Manh Tung   March 17, 2020 | 01:00 am PT
Saigon works hard to keep Covid-19 cases below 100
A sign reads "Quarantine area" at Cu Chi District Field Hospital for Covid-19 patients and suspects in HCMC, February 10, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nhu Quynh.
Saigon is prepared for the worst in the fight against Covid-19 and would not let the number of cases exceed 100, its leader assured.

The pandemic could last at least a few more months or even years according to experts, making its trajectory difficult to predict, HCMC's Communist Party Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan said at a meeting with the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control Monday.

Vietnam's largest city has set up quarantines for around 3,000 people and plans more to accommodate over 20,000, he said. Doctors are getting familiar with protocols to help take care of 1,000-1,400 people, and more equipment like beds and ventilators would be installed to accommodate the increasing number of those who need medical care, he said.

"The city's goal is to detect and quarantine infection cases promptly, not letting the number of infection cases go above 100. This will not be easy but if we keep doing it relentlessly, we will be able to contain the epidemic," Nhan said.

People should also "share the burden" with others who are affected by this epidemic, like students who cannot go to class or people losing their salaries, he exhorted.

"Let's accept that each of us will earn a little less and share the burden with businesses. To expect that our lives and earnings to be the same as before is impossible."

Fighting the disease and keeping the socio-economy afloat must be done simultaneously, he said.

The southern metropolis has so far had eight diagnosed cases, of whom three people have been discharged. Each patient has led to an average of 280 others who had contact with them being quarantined.

All five active cases, including a 33-year-old Latvian man from Spain who landed in Saigon on March 8 before testing positive on March 15, had been in contact with flights and people coming from outside Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the Saigon Department of Health, said.

"We would try to test and categorize all visitors from outbreak areas entering Saigon. This process will effectively prevent community spread," Binh said.

He added that the city has enough funds to operate 20 negative-pressure rooms for isolation in Cu Chi and Can Gio Districts on the outskirts.

Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of the city People's Committee, said hotels have to work with the Department of Tourism to create quarantine zones, and the Department of Industry and Trade has to ensure there are enough masks for people to wear in public.

Vietnam has so far had 61 patients, of whom 16 have recovered. Among those currently in hospital, two, a 69-year-old British man and a 64-year-old Vietnamese woman, both in Hanoi, are in critical condition.

The Covid-19 outbreak has thus far spread to 162 countries and territories around the world, with the death toll climbing to over 7,100.

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