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Blood shortage warned as donations postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks



A woman in HCM City donates blood before the Tết holiday. — VNA/ Photo Đinh Hằng

HÀ NỘI — The resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in many cities and provinces in recent weeks has seriously affected the blood supply for medical treatment.

Although many people and organisations responded to the call of blood donation by the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (NIHBT) on February 19, the amount of blood received per day was still only a few hundred units while the average need for treatment each day is from 1,200 to 1,500 units.

There is usually a shortage of blood during the Tết (Lunar New Year) holiday as the holiday lasts long while blood has a short shelf life and many patients still need blood transfusions during Tết.

This year, the pandemic’s resurgence has made the shortage after Tết even worse.

Before Tết, 30 entities requested to postpone or cancel blood donation plans which meant the NIHBT missed out on receiving more than 8,000 units.

After the holiday, the institute received information about the delay of 24 more blood donation plans from now to the end of March with an expected donation of 5,000 units.

In addition, the blood donation schedule in March cannot be confirmed because it depends on the university and college’s return to the school schedule.

This means the blood reserves of the institute are decreasing.

If this situation continues, blood reserves will decrease to an alarming threshold, fell into a state of scarcity and seriously affect the blood supply to health facilities.

The Institute’s director Bạch Quốc Khánh said: “The estimated blood demand for emergency and treatment in February and March of the institute is about 50,000 units.”

“With blood donation schedules maintained up to now, there was still a shortage of about 20,000 units, seriously affecting the provision of 177 medical facilities in 28 provinces and cities in the north with about 41 million people,” said Khánh.

As of February 18, the institute’s blood reserve was about 4,800 units, the director said.

To tackle the scarcity, the institute had to mobilise hundreds of its staff to donate blood both during and after Tết.

Responding to the programme ‘White Blouse – Red Heart’ on the occasion of Việt Nam Doctors’ on February 27 launched by the Việt Nam Medical Trade Union, 33 grassroots trade unions have registered to donate blood.

But due to participating in the control of the COVID-19 outbreak, many units proposed delaying the donation events.

Therefore, from January 28 to February 17, the institute received only 8,152 blood units, with nearly 1,000 blood units donated by medical staff in Hà Nội including the NIHBT, Hà Nôị Oncology Hospital, Hà Nội Heart Hospital, Geriatric Hospital and General Agriculture Hospital and nearly 900 units from relatives of patients who were undergoing donation treatment.

At the same time, the institute has provided 15,700 units of red blood cells (excluding other types of preparations) for health facilities, many of which are remote or COVID-19 affected localities such as Quảng Ninh, Hải Dương, Bắc Kạn, Thái Nguyên, Hòa Bình, Lạng Sơn, Bắc Giang, Thanh Hóa, Nam Định and Ninh Bình provinces, according to the institute director.

Some days, the institute provides up to 2,500 units of blood, double the average daily need of 1,200-1,500 units of blood, although it can only meet 70-80 per cent of the blood demand of hospitals.

To create favourable conditions for people to donate blood, from now to March 7, fixed blood donation points in Hà Nội at No. 26 Lương Ngọc Quyến Street, 132 Quan Nhân Street, and No. 10, Lane 122 Láng Road will open from 8am to 12am and 1.30pm to 5pm every day instead of opening only from Monday to Saturday as before.

The NIHBT called for people with good health conditions to participate in blood donation (especially blood groups O and A) and platelet donation and asked agencies and organisations to maintain blood donation schedules and mobilise officials, employees and people to donate blood to help tackle the shortage. — 



Vietnam should expect heavy storms in September



Vietnam should expect heavy storms in September

House roofs are blown away by strong winds triggered by storm Molave in Quang Ngai Province in October 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan.

10-13 storms could form in the East Sea this year, with around half expected to hit mainland Vietnam, meteorologists warned.

Though the rainy season will strike earlier this year compared to normal, the storm season will commence later, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

From now until May, it is unlikely that any storms or tropical depressions would form in the East Sea, which is known internationally as the South China Sea, Nguyen Van Huong, head of the center’s weather forecast division told Vietnam News Agency.

Yet in the following months, tropical depressions and storms would form on a more frequent basis, with around 10-13 storms expected to enter the sea.

The most powerful would hit around September and October, with more than half set to make direct landfall, Huong said.

Between June and September, tropical depressions and storms will mostly affect the north and north-central region yet those striking during the period from September until the year’s end would affect the central region.

The rainy season has already arrived in southern Vietnam, sooner than it should, due to La Nina, a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that lowers the sea surface temperature across the eastern equatorial part of the central Pacific Ocean and causes extensive weather effects across the globe.

Natural disasters like storms, flooding, and droughts caused damage worth VND37.4 trillion ($1.6 billion) in 2020, five times higher compared to 2019.

They left 357 people dead or missing compared to 133 in 2019, according to data from the Central Steering Committee on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control.

Vietnam was hit by 14 storms and several depressions that triggered heavy flooding and landslides during 2020. Of these, Molave made landfall over central Quang Nam and Quang Ngai provinces in late October as one of the most powerful storms that have ever hit the country in two decades.

Between late September and mid-November, the central region was hit by as many as nine storms and two tropical depressions that resulted in historic flooding that caused six central provinces a total loss of VND30 trillion ($1.29 billion).


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Local COVID-19 vaccination process remains safe



During the initial novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination drive, Vietnam has yet to record any cases of blood clots or thrombosis occurring after injection, according to the Ministry of Health.

Following over a month of efforts to begin inoculating the local population, the nation has carried out the process by using the AstraZeneca vaccine. This has seen more than 70,000 people, the majority of whom are frontline medical workers and members of community-based steering committees for COVID-19 prevention and control in 19 cities and provinces, vaccinated to ensure maximum safety.

Prof. Dr. Dang Duc Anh, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, states that the immunisation procedures taking place locally are being implemented at the highest safety level, whilst differing from other countries in the world, including developed nations.

“COVID-19 vaccination facilities must ensure standards in terms of facilities, equipment and manpower, implement the screening, counseling process before vaccination, and organise safe vaccination sessions under regulations set out the Ministry of Health.

Vaccinated people must stay at the vaccination site for at least 30 minutes after inoculation in order to monitor their health status, and are instructed to follow up at home for at least 24 hours and to continue follow-up for up to three weeks after injection.

Hospitals are always ready for emergencies to prevent severe reactions after vaccination to ensure maximum safety for the vaccinated,” Prof. Anh says.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Health, the first injection campaign saw the monitoring system of the Expanded National Program for Immunization record approximately 33% of injected people suffer a post-injection mild reaction which disappeared after a few days with no need for treatment or medical care. In addition to this, about 1% of cases recorded a hypersensitive reaction after injection, with cases being properly dealt with according to regulations.

Dr. Kidong Park, representative of the WHO in Vietnam, states that ensuring the quality, safety, and effectiveness of vaccines in the nation remains one of the WHO’s top priorities.

“Our organisation is working closely with competent Vietnamese agencies to ensure that global standards and regulations are properly implemented to assess and monitor the quality, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines which are being deployed in the country. The WHO will continue to support the Vietnamese Government in implementing this campaign with a particular focus on priority groups,” Dr. Park adds.

Rana Flowers, representative of UNICEF in Vietnam, underscores the need to accelerate the vaccination progress to ensure the country does not fall into a blockade like many other international partners amid the continued global outbreaks of the COVID-19 pandemic in neighbouring countries.

As part of the Expanded National Immunization Programme, the Ministry of Health are calling on all people to stay active and take proactive steps to implement recommendations from specialised agencies on vaccination against COVID-19. This should be done alongside downloading the e-health applications on iOS or Android in order to recorded when individuals are vaccinated.

The consciousness and actions of each person will therefore contribute to helping the nation quickly achieve the goal of vaccinating the population against COVID-19, thereby creating community immunity to prevent widespread infections of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a mean of effectively combating the pandemic



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Đà Nẵng pushes ahead with reception of overseas Vietnamese



A view of Đà Nẵng International Airport. — Photo

ĐÀ NẴNG — The Đà Nẵng People’s Committee on Thursday issued a document on the reception and quarantine of overseas Vietnamese citizens coming to the central city.

To ensure coordination in the reception of overseas Vietnamese entering the city via Đà Nẵng International Airport and in self-paid quarantine at local hotels, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Lê Trung Chinh requested that from April 14 through May 31, relevant agencies only receive and provide health quarantine for overseas Vietnamese citizens coming to the central city on flights organised by enterprises that have quarantine plans approved by authorities.

Chinh also told competent agencies to continue receiving and quarantining foreign experts and diplomatic and official passport holders in line with regulations.

Passengers from foreign destinations arriving at Đà Nẵng International Airport must undergo quarantine at local military-managed facilities or quarantine sites in other provinces and cities.

After May 31, if there are more than two flights from foreign destinations per week, the Health Department will propose quarantine plans to the municipal People’s Committee, according to the city mayor.

As of Thursday morning, the COVID-19 infection tally in Việt Nam stood at 2,737, including 2,445 recoveries and 35 deaths. A total 38,743 people who had close contact with COVID-19 patients or came from foreign pandemic-hit areas are being quarantined across the country, according to the Ministry of Health. —


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