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Vietnam says treating novel coronavirus patients for free

Thursday, February 06, 2020, 11:48 GMT+7
Vietnam says treating novel coronavirus patients for free
A nurse takes care of a novel coronavirus patient in quarantine at Cho Ray Hospital in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, February 4, 2020. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

All patients suspected to have contracted the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and who need to be placed under quarantine will not have to pay medical fees when they receive treatment at public hospitals, the Vietnam Social Security (VSS) and the Vietnamese Ministry of Health have announced.

Le Van Phuc, head of the health insurance policy implementation committee under VSS, said on Wednesday that anyone who shows symptoms of a fever, coughing, and shortness of breath will be tested for the novel coronavirus for free, with all costs covered by the health insurance fund.

If the person tests positive for the virus and requires further treatment, all their medical fees will also be paid for by the health insurance fund, Phuc said.

“VSS is working with the Ministry of Health to reach a consensus on a number of other issues, including payment for the patients’ underlying medical conditions or other problems that may arise during treatment,” Phuc said.

VSS has also sent a document to the health insurance units in Vietnam’s 63 provinces and cities asking them to create favorable conditions for convenient medical treatment and hospital transfers of patients suspected of contracting 2019-nCoV.

Nguyen Nam Lien, director of the Planning and Finance Department at the Ministry of Health, also confirmed on Wednesday that the ministry, together with VSS, is working on more detailed instructions.

The novel coronavirus, which first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, has killed 565 people and infected more than 28,200 globally as of Thursday, according to the South China Morning Post.

It has spread across mainland China and to 31 other countries and regions, according to a Reuters tally based on official statements from the authorities involved.

Vietnam has confirmed ten cases so far, including seven Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese.

Among them, one Chinese and two Vietnamese have fully recovered and been discharged from hospital as of Thursday. They were all treated for free.

The World Health Organization has declared the new coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.

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