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Ho Chi Minh City warns health workers against attending crowded events

Thursday, March 26, 2020, 18:00 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City warns health workers against attending crowded events
A healthcare professional at Binh Thanh District Hospital disinfects two people suspected of carrying the novel coronavirus in Ho Chi Minh City in this undated photo. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

The Department of Health of Ho Chi Minh City has requested that health workers refrain from attending events that draw large crowds after dozens of employees at a district hospital were placed under quarantine due to contact with family members of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient at a funeral.

The request was made in an urgent circular in compliance with COVID-19 prevention measures for healthcare workers sent to relevant units on Wednesday.

Accordingly, the municipal health department has asked healthcare workers and people living with infected patients to refrain from participating in crowded events such as weddings, funerals, and dining parties at restaurants and eateries.

Healthcare workers should also refrain from entering public areas.  

In emergency situations that require more than one healthcare professional, no more than three are allowed to gather at once and all must wear face masks and maintain a distance of two meters apart. 

Meanwhile, healthcare facilities have been asked to revise their disease prevention plans in order to eliminate the ability of cross infection among health workers and prevent crowds by rearranging their medical examination and treatment facilities.

Hospitals’ boards of directors were told to leverage technology to conduct online meetings and that all in-person professional briefings should be limited to ten attendees in rooms with ample space for each person to maintain a safe distance of two meters apart.  

The health department also requested that healthcare units strengthen epidemiological investigations, closely monitor patients and visitors, and minimize contact between outsiders and health workers and patients in their facilities.

People who come into contact with hospital staff for work purposes, as well as non-medical employees such as janitors, security guards, and parking attendants, should also be closely monitored.

The circular was released after 53 health officials and medical employees, including members of the board of directors at Binh Chanh District Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, were placed under quarantine due to contact with family members of COVID-19 patient No. 142 at a funeral on Monday.

Patient No. 142 is a 26-year-old Vietnamese student who had been studying in the U.S. before returning to Ho Chi Minh City on March 10.

While in Vietnam, he visited Binh Dan Hospital in District 3 and the U.S. Consulate General in District 1.  

He had also been in contact with temporary residence registration officers in Tan Tuc Commune, Binh Chanh District.

The student tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday and is now being treated at a field hospital in Can Gio, an outlying district of Ho Chi Minh City.

There have been 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in Ho Chi Minh City, three of whom have recovered and been released from the hospital.  

Four additional cases have tested positive for the novel coronavirus once and will soon be announced by the Ministry of Health, according to the municipal Department of Health’s director Nguyen Tan Binh.

Vietnam has confirmed a total of 148 COVID-19 cases with an additional 1,643 suspected infections. Suspected cases are defined as people who have come in close contact with a confirmed case or have developed symptoms of the illness.

Seventeen of the confirmed cases have made full recoveries and been discharged from the hospital as of last Friday. 

About 30,400 people had tested negative for the virus by Thursday, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

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