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HCM City prepares for new life after social distancing



From July 9, Ho Chi Minh City entered 15 days of social distancing under Directive 16 of the Prime Minister. This is a valuable time for Vietnam’s largest metropolis to find new strategies to ‘live together’ with the Covid-19 epidemic.

HCM City prepares for new life after social distancing

Thousands of people gathered at Phu Tho Gymnasium in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

At 9am on July 5, at the wholesale market of Binh Dien in District 8, HCM City, dozens of people who surrounded two employees of the market management board wearing protective clothing. They began fighting for the Covid-19 test registration sheets.

The rules on epidemic prevention and control were being broken. The scene was very chaotic. People shouted and tried to get the papers, which are considered ‘passports’ to enter the market.

“Please give me one sheet. I’ve been waiting for an hour, I can’t stand it anymore…”, a woman shouted angrily. Meanwhile, two employees looked confused in the tight circle of dozens of people.

Earlier, people were surprised seeing photos featuring thousands of people queuing and jostling at Phu Tho Gymnasium in District 11 when HCM City just launched a campaign to vaccinate more than 800,000 people.

On June 24-25, thousands of people flocked to Phu Tho Gymnasium to be vaccinated. Although the chaos was solved the next day, the bad news caused the people who came to the stadium to be very afraid. A person from District 4 who tested positive for nCoV had been vaccinated at Phu Tho Gymnasium on June 24.

In fact, the failure to ensure social distance at the vaccination site at Phu Tho Stadium posed a high risk of spreading the disease.

There was also a mess in the campaign to collect samples for nCoV testing for more than 5 million people in the city. Thousands of people in Binh Tan and District 8 lined up on the street, stood very close to each other, inching up for an hour to get to the sample collecting sites.

People complained on social networks about the slow return of test results. They said the results were only available after 2-3 days and during these days, if someone carried the virus, they would have already spread it to others.

In addition, the measure to strictly control people who get in and out the city requires people to have a certificate of negative test results for the virus. Accordingly, thousands of people jostled at hospitals and health centers in the city to get quick tests, while no one knew which of them were carrying the virus. At Hospital 175 alone, 54 positive cases in two days were detected through the Covid-19 testing service.

Poor organization

HCM City prepares for new life after social distancing

These actions all went against the social distancing regulations under Directive 10 of Ho Chi Minh City.

In fact, the city made some decisions that placed pressure on the city’s own epidemic prevention and control goals.

For example, the decision to ask people to have certificate for a negative test to get in and get out the city put pressure on people. It is possible to blame the people’s poor awareness, but the local government gave a hand in making such chaos. At Binh Dien Market, after only two days of distributing test sheets, the market was forced to close.

The scene of thousands of people flocking to the vaccination site at Phu Tho Gymnasium also showed the poor organization of the authorities.

Previously, when Go Vap district implemented social distancing under Directive 16, chaos occurred at checkpoints.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam at a recent meeting raised many questions about the problem of testing and tracing of virus carriers in Ho Chi Minh City.

He said that the city issued Directive 10 on social distancing measures to fight the epidemic, but in fact it created chaos and gatherings. The city must immediately adjust the work of taking samples for testing and organizing vaccinations.

New thinking needed

Social distancing is reasonable and also the best solution for HCM City besides vaccines. However, after social distancing, if there is no change, another outbreak will return, even more serious than before.

What solution does Ho Chi Minh City need to control the epidemic and ‘live with’ it?

Dr. Le Minh Khoi from the HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy said that it is necessary to conduct quick tests in an organized way at home instead of organizing large-scale and massive tests.

To avoid overload at hospitals, the city can authorize local administrations to manage F1 cases and allow F0 cases who have no symptoms or mild symptoms to be quarantined at home, depending on their economic conditions.

Field hospitals will treat patients with average symptoms. Hospitals will cure patients with serious illnesses. The elderly and/or those with underlying medical conditions (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal failure) are protected by restricting exposure at home and prioritizing vaccination for them.

The 5K message and vaccinations will be implemented at the same time. Therefore, HCM City needs to vaccinate the people as quickly as possible, and move towards herd immunity.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam recommended that HCM City apply information technology to speed up testing in order to trace and detect Covid-19 infected cases quickly.

For people who have a need to travel, the city must have a plan to make rapid tests and return test results as soon as possible in the form of a QR code.

In order to support HCM City, the Ministry of Information and Communications and the Ministry of Health are working urgently to provide specific instructions on integrating people’s test and vaccination results into personal QR codes, creating favorable conditions for monitoring people from getting in and out epidemic-hit areas.

HCM City prepares for new life after social distancing

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Huy Dung said that in terms of technology, all people have QR codes through applications such as Bluezone and NCOVI or the medical declaration app. People only need to scan the QR code on their phones when passing through checkpoints.

Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung has proposed that HCM City and other localities should apply technology in epidemic control. These technological solutions are not only applicable to Covid-19 prevention and control, but also can be used for infectious pandemics that may occur in the future.

The Minister proposed fighting the epidemic by “5K message + vaccines + technology”.

It was described as such:

Earlier: detecting infected people through proactive testing, screening.

Faster: faster tracing of infected cases through technology. Instead of taking a week, it will be in several hours.

More precise: accurately detecting the people who have close contacts (F1) with infected cases by technology, which can reduce the number of F1 cases by dozens of times.

More radical: each virus carrier can create a network of infected people, and many infected people have no symptoms but they can still infect others. However, the application of technology will uncover the entire network involved.

More normal: When technology is applied in Covid-19 prevention and control, those who are infected will be treated, those who have close contact with infected people will be isolated, and the rest will still go to work, live a normal life with the implementation of the “5k messages + vaccines and technology”.

Longer term: vaccinations.

* 5k message: Khau trang (facemask)- (Khu khuan) disinfection- (Khoang cach) distance- (Khong tu tap) no gathering – (Khai bao y te) health declaration.

Ho Van – Tuan Kiet



Dong Nai allows resumption of 145 taxis to transport patients to hospitals



A street is under lockdown in Dong Nai. Dong Nai Province has allowed 145 taxis to resume operations to transport patients to hospitals during the shelter-in-place period – PHOTO: VNA

HCMC – Dong Nai Province has allowed 145 taxis to resume operations to transport patients to hospitals during the shelter-in-place period, while permitting shippers to return to work from 6.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. each day.

The 145 taxis, which belong to the Mai Linh, Saigon, Lado and Long Thanh taxi operators, will also be used for essential cases, mainly medical purposes, including transporting people from/to quarantine centers, the Dong Nai Department of Transport said on August 5.

The provincial department granted QR identification codes to the taxis to make it easier for anti-virus forces to check and control the operation of these vehicles.

During their operations, these taxis must comply with Covid-19 safety protocols and make hand sanitizers and face masks available, while the drivers must have a negative Covid-19 test certificate and make online heath declarations before work.

Earlier, the Dong Nai Department of Industry and Trade allowed delivery workers, or shippers, to return to work in the daytime, the local media reported.

These shippers were told to have identifying characteristics such as a uniform, boxes, a business logo or a travel permit. Each delivery man is allowed to work at only one commune, ward or district.

The provincial government on July 31 decided to continue adopting the social distancing order under the prime minister’s Directive 16 for 15 more days from August 2 until 15 and imposed night movement restrictions.


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Girl falls to death at apartment building in Hanoi



A 12-year-old girl died after falling from the 12th floor to the third floor of an apartment building in Hoang Mai District, Hanoi on Tuesday night.

The incident occurred at the HH4C building in Linh Dam apartment complex in Hoang Mai District at around 10:00 pm on the same day.

Residents of the building heard a loud bang at that time and ran outdoors to check.

At the skylight area on the third floor, they saw a girl lying immobile.

The victim died on the spot, according to local authorities.

She was later verified to live in a flat on the 12th floor of the apartment building, a representative of its management board told Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper on Wednesday morning.

The girl was determined to have fallen from the window ventilator of her flat to the skylight.

“The girl’s parents had separated,” the management board’s representative said.

“During their investigation, the authorities discovered a suicide note allegedly written by the girl.”

Hoang Mai District police are investigating to clarify the cause of the incident.

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Health ministry told Nanogen to submit human trials data to health ministry before August 15 for reviews



The health ministry on Monday asks HCM City-based biopharmaceutical company Nanogen, developer of the Vietnamese COVID-19 vaccine Nano Covax, to submit results of phase 2 and initial phase 3 trials to be reviewed for emergency approval.

Health ministry told Nanogen to submit human trials data to health ministry before August 15 for reviews
Deputy Health Minister Tran Van Thuan (middle) inspects a vial of Nano Covax, the frontrunner of the Vietnamese COVID-19 vaccine. — Photo from the Ministry of Health

Deputy Health Minister Tran Van Thuan, leader of the ministry’s special task force on clinical trials and development of COVID-19 vaccines, made the request during a progress meeting with experts, as the country deals with a severe fourth wave of infections while vaccine supply is still limited amid a global shortage.

The meeting included leaders of the Department of Science and Technology-Training (under the health ministry), the Military Medical Academy, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, and the Pasteur Institute in HCM City and was held to review the current progress and find ways to facilitate the clinical trials and push for reports on data of phase 1, 2, 3 (a, b) of the Nano Covax vaccine. 

Phase 3 trials are being conducted with 13,000 volunteers, divided into two phases, 3a with 1,000 people and 3b with 12,000 people.

13,000 first doses in phase 3 have been administered, with the second dose expected to be completed before mid-August, according to the company.

Surrogate virus neutralisation tests (sVNT) for the 1,000 people involved in phase 3a, revealed 100 per cent production of neutralising antibodies at levels higher than 30 per cent, but further monitoring is needed.

In tandem with applying for conditional approval for emergency use, Nanogen is also requesting the health ministry to consider phase 3c trials, which would involve 500,000 to 1 million volunteers. Trials of the vaccine on children 12-18 years old would be conducted once the full approval is obtained.

Deputy Minister Thuan said the ministry is anticipating the domestically researched and manufactured COVID-19 vaccine will help protect the health and lives of the Vietnamese people, be more proactive in vaccine rollout and reduce dependency on foreign vaccine imports.

“The good news is the [Nano Covax] vaccine seems to be safe and can elicit high level of [SARS-CoV-2] neutralising antibodies,” he said. “But we have not yet had enough data on the protective properties of the vaccine, more time and more study is needed.”

The Ministry of Health has always supported and created the most favourable conditions for companies and individuals to participate in the production of COVID-19 vaccines, having mobilised many industry-leading scientists in the country’s to participate in the assessment of vaccines.

The health official wants Nanogen to submit a report on research results for phase 2 and initial phase 3, so that the National Ethics Committee in Biomedical Research could start evaluation for emergency approval for Nano Covax.

Source: Vietnam News


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