War footing: Vietnam readies 90,000 doctors for coronavirus battle

By Le Nga, Le Phuong   March 19, 2020 | 08:00 am GMT+7
War footing: Vietnam readies 90,000 doctors for coronavirus battle
A woman has her samples taken for Covid-19 testing upon arriving at Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi, March 18, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Vietnam has readied as many as 90,000 doctors and 125,000 nurses, as also and turned many facilities into zones for quarantining and treating Covid-19 patients.

By Wednesday, 90,000 doctors and 125,000 nurses nationwide had been positioned to be deployed in case Vietnam sees a spike in Covid-19 patients.

If necessary, medical students will also join the force to fight Covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, officials say.

"Seniors of medical schools will be trained for the task of taking samples for testing for the virus, quarantining suspected patients and assisting doctors and nurses," Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son said Tuesday.

Retired doctors and nurses have also been called to lend a helping hand if needed, he said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had said Tuesday that hospitals of all levels, the military, and the police force have to prepare themselves so that they can be pressed into service as quickly as possible.

3,000 ventilators have been prepared at medical facilities across the nation.

In case the pandemic gets worse and more patients become critical and cannot breathe on their own, ventilators will be reserved for the most urgent cases.

The health sector has also built plans to acquire more medical equipment, medicines, masks, protective gear and disinfectant.

At present, the number of hospital beds are sufficient to meet the demand of quarantining those suspected to have the virus and treating infected ones, Son said.

Preparing for the worst

The country’s major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, have got their medical infrastructure ready for the worst scenarios.

Nguyen Tan Binh, director of HCMC’s Health Department, said the city has readied staff, facilities and equipment to respond to the Covid-19 epidemic even if it lasts longer than expected.

HCMC has turned the Can Gio District Hospital with 300 beds into a facility that will specialize in treating Covid-19 patients. Since Monday, the hospital has been receiving those with symptoms like cough and fever.

The field hospital in Cu Chi, with 300 beds, which was initially established as a centralized medical camp to quarantine those returning to Vietnam from stricken areas and those who have met with returnees, is now being used to treat infections as well.

The second campus of the HCMC Oncology Hospital will be ready for operation in June, and if the number of Covid-19 patients increases, this new campus will be used to treat them.

400 infectious disease specialists in the city are training other doctors to ensure that the city can be capable of treating up to 1,000-1,400 patients.

The city has got 20,000 test kits for next month and an equal number will be added in May and June.

"We’re trying our best to test and classify all people entering Vietnam from stricken areas. This primary step will help us to completely prevent the epidemic from spreading further," Binh said.

As for Hanoi, over 4,000 hospital beds have been prepared for Covid-19 suspects and patients, half of them in field hospitals.

Hanoi Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung said that with more Vietnamese likely to return home from Europe, the city has turned several facilities into medical camps for quarantining. These include the Thuong Thanh resettlement area in Long Bien District, which is home to 427 apartments that can isolate about 2,000 people, a student accommodation facility in Hoang Mai District, which can serve 2,000 in quarantine, the half-finished Me Linh General Hospital in Me Linh District will be deployed to quarantine 200.

In addition, some vocational schools in the city’s outskirts may also be pressed into use.

Vietnam has reported 76 Covid-19 patients, including 60 since March 6, before which the country had gone 22 days without a new case. Of the active cases, 20 are being treated in Hanoi and nine in HCMC.

The Covid-19 pandemic has spread to 173 countries and territories, claiming nearly 9,000 lives.

 
 
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