Ho Chi Minh City hospitals and clinics prepare for possible spike in COVID-19 cases

The moment Da Nang’s medical authorities confirmed the city’s first COVID-19 community cases and the plan to place the city under lockdown on 28th July, thousands of tourists hurried to leave the city. Out of the many people leaving Da Nang before the deadline, it was completely unknown how many of them had unknowingly come into contact with the confirmed cases and were carrying the virus themselves.  

Unfortunately, some residents in other cities such as Hanoi, Saigon, and Dak Lak who recently came back from Da Nang have already been confirmed to be infected with the virus, while others have shown symptoms of COVID-19.

Raising the alarm on a possible surge of new community cases, Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Health has issued a new set of regulations for local hospitals and clinics to combat the pandemic.

Preventive measures are ramped up in local hospitals and clinics

According to the new regulations, all hospitals and clinics in Ho Chi Minh City must conduct SARS-CoV-2 tests for all patients and medical staff who show symptoms, as well as those without clear medical records or who are showing mild symptoms.

All visitors must be required to sanitize their hands, wear masks, have their temperatures measured, and make a health declaration. Visitors with a travel history to Da Nang after 1st July and showing COVID-19-related symptoms must be quarantined and scheduled for a test immediately.

HCMC COVID-19 testing
Ho Chi Minh City residents being sent for testing in a quarantine facility in District 10
Image adapted from: Trung tâm Kiểm soát Bệnh tật Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

To curtail any chances of coronavirus spread in medical facilities, all hospitals are required to set up separate wards for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

HCMC COVID-19_isolation facilityA makeshift isolation ward in Gia Dinh Hospital dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 patients
Image credit: HCM Medinet

Meanwhile, public and private clinics are required to roll out a rigid screening process for patients, house those who have a cough or fever in a separate ward, and contact Ambulance Center 115 to transfer patients who show more serious symptoms to the nearest hospitals.

HCMC COVID-19_isolation facility
A doctor of Trung Vuong Hospital on duty in an isolation ward. A plastic screen is erected between the doctor and the patient to minimize the spread of the coronavirus
Image credit: HCM Medinet

Local pharmacists have also been asked to make sure people who buy medicines for the treatment of cough, flu, and fever to record down their names, residential addresses, and phone numbers.

HCMC COVID-19_pharmacyImage credit: Cao Đẳng Y Dược

Visitors who have left Da Nang after 1st July and later visit any local medical establishments, but have not shown any COVID-19 symptoms will be sent to separate wards for screening. The medical staff will arrange for the patient to undergo a 14-day home isolation period and notify the Hồ Chí Minh City Centre of Disease Control (HCDC) to test them for COVID-19.

Staff of local hospitals and clinics will also guide patients to install COVID-19 tracking apps Bluezone and NCOVI on their mobile phones, as well as report daily updates to Ho Chi Minh City’s Medical Department by 7.30AM every day.

What returnees from Da Nang in Saigon must do

HCMC COVID-19 testing
Image adapted from: Trung tâm Kiểm soát Bệnh tật Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

According to Ms Le Hong Nga, head of the Hồ Chí Minh City Centre of Disease Control, the first thing that every Ho Chi Minh resident who came back from Da Nang after 1st July should do is to contact medical hotlines for instructions on the timing and location of COVID-19 testing.

Otherwise, such residents should also make health declarations on mobile apps such as Bluezone and NCOVI, and quarantine themselves at home for at least 14 days while waiting to be contacted for testing.

Those who have taken the COVID-19 test must remain quarantined at home until the results come back negative. In case the results are positive, you will be transported to the nearest hospital’s quarantine facility.

As there is a great number of people across Ho Chi Minh City who need to be tested, everyone needs to be patient.

HCMC COVID-19 testing
COVID-19 testing
Image credit: Tuoi Tre

As of 29th July, Ho Chi Minh City’s medical authorities have received the health declarations of 5,930 people coming back from Da Nang from 1st July. Out of this number, 1,770 people have been sent for testing and 177 people have received their results.

Health declarations are still being submitted to local health authorities and large-scale testing is underway.

Mask-wearing is compulsory again in Saigon

HCMC COVID-19_wear masks
Image credit: bachmai.gov.vn

Meanwhile, all Ho Chi Minh City residents are required to wear masks when in public to curb the spread of the virus.

Every district and ward in Ho Chi Minh City has also sent out task forces to check their areas for people who have come back from Da Nang after 1st July, with an aim to encourage them to make health declarations and go for testing.

Medical hotlines in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City residents who left Da Nang after 1st July can contact the following medical hotlines for assistance on testing.

For further information, please contact the Hồ Chí Minh City Centre of Disease Control on their Facebook page, website, or their hotline at 08 6957 7133.

Ho Chi Minh City enhances COVID-19 preventive efforts

Given the nationwide COVID-19 climate, there’s a high chance that community cases will soon reach Ho Chi Minh City.

In an effort to curb the spread of the virus and protect yourself, follow health and safety protocols such as wearing masks in public, sanitizing your hands often, and holding off any travel plans until the new outbreak in Vietnam is completely suppressed nationwide.

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Cover image adapted from: Trung tâm Kiểm soát Bệnh tật Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh

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