Risk of fourth COVID-19 outbreak high: Health Minister

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A team from the Ministry of Health, led by Deputy Minister of Health Đỗ Xuân Tuyên, checks COVID-19 prevention and control measures, vaccinations, and quarantine areas in HCM City.

HCM CITY — Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long on Friday told authorities in provinces and cities nationwide to tighten preventive measures as the risk of a fourth outbreak of COVID-19 remains high.

The ministry, during an online meeting with health facilities and vaccination centres nationwide, noted that because Việt Nam shares a long border with other countries in Asia, controlling illegal migration has been difficult.

Two Vietnamese people on March 26 illegally entered Phú Quốc island by sea and then travelled to Hải Phòng and HCM City where they were confirmed positive and quarantined.

The country had controlled three previous COVID-19 outbreaks, he said, adding that in the third outbreak, the number of cases in Hải Dương Province was the highest recorded in the country in one area. There are still cases being detected there.

The ministry has sent a team led by Deputy Minister of Health Đỗ Xuân Tuyên to check COVID-19 prevention and control, vaccinations, and quarantine areas in HCM City.

The team checked vaccinations at Hùng Vương Hospital and quarantine areas at a hotel in District 1. All activities were being carried out well and ensured safety for health workers, hotel staff and those quarantined.

The team also met with the city’s Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. At the meeting, Dr Nguyễn Hữu Hưng, vice head of the city’s Department of Health, said the city would continue testing high-risk people in markets, industrial parks, and other areas.

The city was trying to identify illegal migrants as early as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community, Hưng said.

Dr Nguyễn Trí Dũng, head of the city Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention, said: “The National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control should provide 7,000-8,000 more doses of vaccines to people working at the airport, customs posts, and hotels used as quarantine areas.”

“These people are also at high risk,” Dũng said.

The city has 34 hotels used as quarantine areas. The figure is expected to increase to 40, Nguyễn Tấn Bỉnh, head of the Department of Health, said.

Of the 8,000 vaccine doses the city has received, vaccinations were given first to health workers at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases on March 8.

Health workers at eight hospitals in the city have also been vaccinated. The city will complete the first phase of vaccinations in mid-April as scheduled.

Dương Anh Đức, vice chairman of the city People’s Committee, said that vaccinations for health officials on the frontlines should be provided before mid-April. These include doctors and nurses treating COVID-19 patients, medical workers who collect clinical samples and test for COVID-19, contact tracers, and members of community anti-COVID-19 groups.

Deputy Minister of Health Tuyên told city authorities to strictly fine illegal migrants and other violators. Owners of hotels accepting illegal migrants should also be fined.

The team, which on Saturday will meet authorities in Tây Ninh Province, has already checked COVID-19 prevention and control measures in Quảng Ninh, Hải Dương, and Hà Nội.

As many as 42,225 health officials on the frontlines against the pandemic in 19 provinces and cities have received vaccines. — VNS

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