With the latest Covid-19 outbreak still ongoing, regular blood donors are staying away, cutting supply to those who are in dire need of transfusions.
Ly Lo May, 26, learned that she has blood cancer over a month ago. The leukemia causes her to hemorrhage. There are bruises all over her body and she faces the risk of brain hemorrhage.
A Dao ethnic woman from the northern mountainous province of Sa Pa, May is under treatment at the National Institute of Haematology & Blood Transfusion (NIHBT) in Hanoi since January 29. She needs blood transfusion every day. Sometimes for one process, she needs as many as four blood units, or 1,000 millimeters in total, per day.
But recently, the treatment has been interrupted several times due to a supply shortage in the blood bank.
The blood left in store at the National Institute of Haematology & Blood Transfusion (NIHBT) in Hanoi, Feburary 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Cong Thang.
The reason for the shortage is obvious. Fears related to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak are preventing people from going to the hospitals to donate blood as they used to do earlier.
May’s family is worried about what would happen if her treatment cannot continue, despite the hospital announcing recently that she belongs to the group of patients who would be given priority for blood transfusions, given her critical condition.
But that group is limited. For now, those suffering chronic anemia will not get their blood transfusions, nor will patients deemed not to be in emergency situations.
Bach Quoc Khanh, head of the haematology institute, said the Covid-19 outbreak has prevented donors from contributing because they are afraid of accidentally getting into contact with infectees, requiring them to be quarantined or isolated at home, and, in the worst case scenario, get infected with the disease.
For three days, February 9-11, 30 blood donation schedules at the institute were canceled, which means it lost more than 5,000 blood units.
On February 18, the institute, which provides blood to various hospitals across the country, had just 4,800 units left in store while the average demand is 1,200-1,500 units each day.
Khanh said many hospitals, medical centers and organizations have announced the delay of blood donation campaigns because they want to focus on Covid-19 prevention first.
Nguyen Lan Hieu, director of the Hanoi Medical University Hospital, reported similar shortages in blood banks.
“Many of our patients are on the waiting list for the right blood type and have not received the proper treatment yet.”
The blood shortage is affecting the treatment of patients at 177 health facilities in 28 cities and provinces in northern Vietnam, he said.
The NIHBT has suggested that blood donors could use a mobile app designed particularly for blood donations to register, complete health declaration procedures and arrange a schedule to ensure a donation in safe conditions.
Vietnam has been dealing with a new wave of community transmissions since January 28.
The number of Covid-19 cases in the latest outbreak has topped 800 in 13 cities and provinces, including HCMC and Hanoi.
Lockdown at Hanoi cancer hospital catches patients off guard
Ten coronavirus-positive cases were detected at the Hanoi’s top public cancer hospital Friday morning, prompting all three of its campuses in Hoan Kiem and Thanh Tri Districts to be locked down starting 5:30 a.m.
Over 5,000 people in the facilities, including employees, patients and their family members were locked inside.
Among the coronavirus cases, four were patients and the rest were their family members. One of them had been treated for a month at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Dong Anh District, which has also locked down earlier following its relevation as a coronavirus hotspot.
Barricades were erected in front of the hospital’s main gate on Phung Hung Street and another gate at Chu Van An Street.
Several family members, unaware of the lockdown order, were confused upon being stopped by the police as they tried to get inside.
Nguyen Tich, from the north central Thanh Hoa Province, was supposed to have his blood samples taken today. But the lockdown means he was unable to enter.
Several other patients and family members stand on a pedestrian bridge that leads to the K Hospital. Around 1,600 patients are stuck inside the locked down hospital.
The K Hospital has announced that it would stop receiving patients except for emergency cases. The hospital receives thousands of patients every day, mainly from northern and central regions.
At around 10 a.m., the first supplements, including food and personal items, were brought to the hospital. Chu Ngoc Anh, chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, has requested Thanh Tri District to ensure that all 5,000 people stuck inside get the necessities they need as the lockdown continues.
Medical workers wear protective suits inside the hospital.
At a campus of the K Hospital in Thanh Tri, about 4 km away from the other one in the same district, barricades have also been erected since early morning.
Chu Ngoc Anh and Deputy Minister of health Tran Van Thuan visited a campus to check up on its lockdown.
Police of Thanh Tri District also erected checkpoints to prevent people from entering or exiting the lockdown areas, especially as it is near residential areas.
The K Hospital is Hanoi’s second hospital to be locked down due to coronavirus outbreaks after the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, a frontline facility for Covid-19 fight.
As the lockdown began close to the morning hours, traffic jams on Phung Hung Street ensued as curious passersby stopped and looked at the situation.
Vietnam is currently experiencing its fourth coronavirus wave which has seen 121 community transmission cases recorded in 15 localities since last week. Besides Hanoi’s two aforementioned hospitals, three other hospitals in the northern Vinh Phuc, Thai Binh and Lang Son provinces were also locked down due to their association with coronavirus cases.
Central region shuts services to cope with outbreak
CENTRAL REGION — Restaurants and cafes in the central city of Đà Nẵng will only offer takeaway or delivery services from noon of Friday as three positive COVID-19 cases were reported to have been infected from an employee at the New Phương Đông Bar on Thursday.
The city has locked down a section of Đống Đa Street – where the bar is situated – and the surrounding living quarters for mass tests and medical checks.
Following the latest test reports of residents in a locked-down building in Nại Hiên Đông Ward of Sơn Trà District, 488 samples were negative for SARS-COV-2 for the first time. Local authorities have provided residents with food and face mask deliveries.
Neighbouring Thừa Thiên Huế Province said it has not yet found a positive case with SARS-COV-2 from 180 close and indirect contact cases related to the outbreak in Đà Nẵng.
The province has sped up mass testing and plans to have tests results within 10 hours of a sample being taken.
Meanwhile, Quảng Ngãi Province has tried to persuade local residents and people from Quảng Nam and Đà Nẵng to stay at home rather than travel to the province.
Mass gatherings and entertainment services were banned from Thursday as mass tests have been conducting at hotspots related to a positive case in Bình Sơn District since May 5.
The province also closed tourism services to the Lý Sơn islands, 30km off the coast, from Friday morning. —
Army disinfects cancer hospital following cluster of COVID-19 infections
HÀ NỘI — The military sprayed disinfectant at the Tân Triều facility of the National Cancer Hospital (K Hospital) in Hà Nội’s outlying district of Thanh Trì Friday afternoon after a cluster of 10 COVID-19 infections were found here.
Forty-five officers, including 20 from the chemical arm of the military and 25 from the Hà Nội Military Command, in full protective suits along with two decontamination vehicles and two chemical sprayers were deployed to shower antiseptic solutions (mostly Chloramine B) over several areas of the facility.
The units were also deployed to disinfect the Kim Chung facility of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Đông Anh District on Thursday as 38 positive COVID-19 cases were detected at the hospital – including medical workers – along with several others related to people who had spent time at the hospital.
All three K Hospital facilities in Hà Nội were put under lockdown from Friday morning following the news of the positive tests from six patients and four relatives of the patients – all in the hepatobiliary faculty of the Tân Triều facility.
Initial investigations show the source of infection could be a 63-year-old woman from Nam Định Province who had undergone treatment at the tropical diseases hospital for about a month since March 30 and was transferred to the K Hospital on April 27, deputy health minister Trần Văn Thuấn said during a trip to the perimeter of the hospital with Chairman of Hà Nội People’s Committee Chu Ngọc Anh on Friday morning.
For the time being, K Hospital will only admit serious cases lower-level medical establishments can’t handle, Thuấn said, adding that contact tracing and testing of all patients, visitors, staff and service workers at the hospital must be sped up.
Further measures would be implemented depending on the seriousness of the outbreak, he added, and in the meantime, all medical staff, patients and their relatives will be quarantined within the hospital until further notice.
The 5am notification of the hospital’s lockdown surprised many patients, visitors and family members of inpatients, leading to a crowd forming outside the hospital in the following hours.
Thuấn said Hà Nội’s authorities should conduct COVID-19 testing for all people surrounding the hospital as well.
Chu Ngọc Anh said the Tân Triều outbreak is much more complex than the outbreak in tropical diseases hospital as it is near a residential area.
He urged nearby residents to be more cautious and follow prevention measures like wearing masks and refrain from large gatherings.
The city will ensure the supply of essential products and goods to the hospital while police will maintain checkpoints around the hospital to ensure no unauthorised exits or entries and to keep surrounding businesses shut.
Hà Nội’s leader also dismissed the possibility of a city-wide lockdown at the time being.
The northern province of Ninh Bình, due to COVID-19 developments, has decided to stop receiving visitors to its religious and tourism sites since Friday morning until further notice
The province also ordered that all incoming arrivals from areas with COVID-19 cases in the community and especially patients or relatives that have gone to the tropical diseases hospital in Hà Nội since April 14 must declare their health status and travel history.
Kindergarten schools will be shut starting next Monday, while primary to high schools can stay open but with COVID-19 prevention measures tightened. —
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