The Ministry of Health is adapting to the situation in the prevention of COVID-19, especially in the worst-hit areas of Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces. Nguyen Truong Son, Deputy Minister of Health, talked to VIR’s Bich Thuy about the new approaches as a way to curb the outbreak.
Vietnam is in a new wave of COVID-19 development, with infections in many cities and provinces, especially the northern provinces of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang. How has the health sector been able to support Bac Giang in particular?
|Nguyen Truong Son, Deputy Minister of Health |
After the latest outbreak struck Bac Giang, cities and provinces like Hanoi, Danang, and others sent teams of health professionals there to support tracing, sample taking, testing, quarantine, and treatment.
As a result, Bac Giang is the locality that has received the most support from healthcare forces nationwide since the first wave of the pandemic in the country. As of June 1, over 2,000 health professionals, medical students, and volunteers came to Bac Giang to join in the efforts.
To help Bac Giang to quickly control the coronavirus spread, the Ministry of Health (MoH) on May 18 sent a special unit to support the province in the fight.
We also sent the best health experts in COVID-19 treatment and establishment of treatment facilities. With the nationwide efforts, the pandemic in the province is expected to be controlled soon, thus contributing to normalising local production activities and stabilising all socioeconomic activities there.
What solutions are the healthcare industry taking in order to stamp out COVID-19, while ensuring operation of businesses in industrial zones (IZs)?
While continuing to take the measures like tracing, testing, and quarantine, vaccinations are taking place to ensure safety for workers of businesses in IZs in both Bac Ninh and Bac Giang. We are also making preparations for scenarios of virus development in Bac Giang in particular. Field hospitals are ready for use; moreover, health staff in all cities and provinces are ready to support Bac Giang when necessary.
When every health crisis enters a peak, there will be more serious cases that require special monitoring, care, and recuperation. We are making teams available from big hospitals to support the work in Bac Giang.
Amid the soaring number of infections in the locality, the MoH has made changes in the prevention and fight against the pandemic there. For the first time, we are applying concentrated quarantine in crowded areas, especially in worker dormitory areas, thus enabling us to better control local transmission. In addition, we apply distancing and quarantine in manufacturing sites to ensure continuation of the local production chain.
Secondly, we changed the way we do testing. Previously, Vietnam just used Realtime RT-PCR testing which produces high accuracy, but takes 4-6 hours. Now we also do rapid antigen tests to screen workers and those with close contact with infections. This enables us to prevent local transmission on a higher level.
Bac Giang is applying this and has produced positive initial results. The number of samples for testing now rises by 2.5-fold compared to that carried out in Danang in July-August last year.
The healthcare sector is planning to give training on taking samples for testing to factories to ensure their safety and normal operation. In terms of treatment, the ministry has ordered facilities to establish intensive care units for on-site treatment as we anticipate that there will be more serious cases there.
The other difference is related to the vaccine strategy. The MoH has delivered hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccines for the two provinces to inoculate workers and high-risk people there.
The harsh weather affects the health condition of staff in Bac Giang and elsewhere. How can the health sector adequately protect them in the pandemic battle?
The health and safety of the frontline forces is the key to the MoH in the fight. The ministry has asked all the working groups and taskforces to ensure members’ health by enhancing nutrition and rearranging the time for taking samples in a more appropriate manner to adapt to the extreme hot weather.
That work should start from early morning to 9am and then 7-11pm each day. Moreover, the conditions for taking samples are better ensured to protect health staff and increase efficiency.
The MoH is asking relevant agencies to study more favourable protective clothing which can absorb air from outside to reduce body heat. If successful, they will be widely used as soon as possible to better serve in the COVID-19 fight.