Vietnam can allow self-quarantine: foreign experts

By Viet Anh   June 12, 2021 | 06:05 pm PT
Vietnam can allow self-quarantine: foreign experts
A barrier is set up in a neighborhood in Hanoi to limit contact to prevent Covid-19 spread, March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Foreign experts said there are several conditions making self-quarantine successful and Vietnam may learn from them.

Since the fourth wave of Covid-19 erupted in late April, Vietnam is seeing a rapid increase in the number of people who come into close contact with patients.

Data from the Ministry of Health shows that, as of June 8, over 20,000 are in quarantine and over 151,000 others are self-isolated at home and elsewhere.

To ease the pressure on government quarantine facilities, some experts have suggested that the authorities should allow people coming into contact with Covid patients to self-quarantine at home.

Professor Sharon Lewin, director of Australia’s Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, said, "This is what Australia is doing, and it has worked well."

In Victoria state, they are allowed to quarantine at home for 14 days and authorities call them on the phone every day to make sure they do not go out.

"More importantly, they intermittently visit them at home without electronic monitoring."

Anyone not found at home could be fined nearly $5,000 and ordered to quarantine further, according to the state website.

Lewin said during the quarantine period (14 days), health workers test them three or four times.

Even people who test positive are permitted to quarantine at home. They need to wear a mask, stay in one room and use a separate bathroom. If they live in a crowded house, the family is sent to quarantine in a hotel.

"We do have families in quarantine, but it is not common. Most people are at home."

In general, Australia only quarantines people in hotels if they are travelers coming from other countries.

Professor Michael Baker of the public health faculty at the University of Otago in New Zealand said home quarantine is fine in some circumstances.

People who come into close contact with Covid patients need to be able to avoid contact with others at home for 14 days, report any symptoms and require people to check on them and be available if they develop symptoms or need help, he said.

"If there is any doubt about a person's ability to self-quarantine effectively, they need to be placed in a well-run quarantine facility."

Lewin admitted there are some risks with home quarantine such as close contacts going out or getting infected, but these are minor and the policy is effective because "most people are doing the right thing."

Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist with the Griffith University Australia, however expressed concern with the viability of self-quarantining.

He noted that the authorities should pay much attention to poor people, who do not have separate rooms in their house and have to stay in one space. In such cases, the risk of household clusters will develop.

He suggested that Vietnam could establish quarantine centers at the community level to reduce the pressure on large centers, he said.

"These kinds of quarantines could be easier to manage."

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