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Hanoi hastens efforts to handle COVID-19 hotbed at Bach Mai Hospital

Authorities in Hanoi are ramping up efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus from Bach Mai Hospital, considered the biggest and most complex hotbed of COVID-19 in Vietnam at present, after more than 10 cases linked with this large hospital have been recorded.

In his urgent message issued on late March 28, Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung requested district-level localities in the city to promptly set up working groups to review and quarantine all inpatients discharged from Bach Mai, outpatients coming to the hospital for check-up and treatment, those visiting or caring for patients, hemodialysis patients of the hospital staying in nearby areas, and other people related to this hospital since March 10.

Local administrations were also ordered to coordinate with their medical centres to take specimens from persons subject to testing.

In particular, people who are caring for their relatives under treatment there will be sent to the city’s concentrated quarantine facilities under Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam’s direction at a meeting earlier on the same day.

At this meeting, the Deputy PM said the People’s Committee of Hanoi has been working closely with the Ministry of Health to direct Bach Mai Hospital carry out necessary measures.

However, not only Hanoi but all relevant provinces and cities need to take more drastic actions, he said, stressing that all forces must coordinate together closely and synchronously to stamp out this hotbed.

Other participants in the meeting shared the view that Bach Mai Hospital is currently the biggest and most complex hotbed of COVID-19 in the country at present. Therefore, it is necessary to promptly review and quarantine all people coming to and leaving this hospital to prevent the coronavirus from spreading to the community.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son said all medical workers, other employees and patients at the hospital have been quarantined and have specimens taken for testing. However, as Bach Mai is a major hospital with the flow of people reaching 10,000 – 15,000 each day, infection risks may come from visitors and outpatients, aside from inpatients and medical staff.

Meanwhile, Tran Dac Phu, adviser to Vietnam’s public health emergency operations centre, pointed out that staff of companies supplying services for Bach Mai Hospital could also be a source of virus transmission, noting several employees of such a company have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Experts are also investigating professional caregivers who could be another potential source, he added.

Phu warned about high risks of virus transmission from workers of service providing companies and professional caregivers since they move to many medical establishments, asking not only Bach Mai but also other hospitals to pay special attention to these groups.

In efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Defence Ministry’s arm of chemical warfare sent soldiers to disinfect the whole Bach Mai Hospital on late March 28./