Hospitals across Hanoi are facing a shortage of COVID-19 doctors, with many having recently tested positive for the virus amid a massive rise in daily patients, presenting serious challenges for the Ministry of Health as it scrambles for solutions.
“We have more than 1,000 doctors, but right now 300 are infected with the coronavirus,” Bach Quoc Khanh, director of the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“Staff with COVID-19 symptoms have been isolated at hospitals or at home depending on conditions whereas those with low viral loads and at no risk of transmission have been asked to continue working,” Khanh said.
The current doctor shortage comes as the daily numbers of infections in Hanoi continue to rise, hitting around 13,300 cases – a nearly 10,000-case rise from 3,972 on March 1, the Hanoi Health Department said, warning that the figure is forecast to keep increasing in the coming days.
The head of the oncology department of a hospital in the capital said nearly half of all doctors and health workers at the hospital have contracted COVID-19, resulting in a serious dearth of medical staff and forcing the institution to only admit emergency cases.
At the COVID-19 Treatment Hospital in Hoang Mai District, where some 300 severe- and moderate-level patients are receiving treatment, coronavirus infections among medical staff are identified nearly every day, the hospital’s media representative said.
“The Hanoi Medicine University Hospital has sent us some of the doctors who are infected with COVID-19 but have either slight or no symptoms,” the representative said.
About 200 employees at the two hospitals have caught the coronavirus, the representative added.
Dr. Nguyen Ich Thuong, from the functional rehabilitation department at the Hanoi Medicine University Hospital, as well as several other doctors from the hospital, have volunteered to continue working despite testing positive for the virus.
With the number of COVID-19 patients on the rise, the current line-up of doctors and other health workers is simply not enough to keep up, according to Dr. Thuong.
Duong Thi Mai Thanh, from the social work department of Bach Mai Hospital, said a large number of doctors have contracted COVID-19 though the exact figure has yet to be announced.
At Ha Dong General Hospital, where 50 doctors and other medical workers are treating about 300 coronavirus patients, infected doctors who show no symptoms have been asked to continue treating the patients.
“Most medical staff engaging in COVID-19 treatment are working in the resuscitation and emergency section, where certain equipment must be operated by specially trained staff. It’s not easy to replace these professionals,” Dr. Dao Thien Tien, the hospital’s director, explained.
Luong Ngoc Khue, director of the health ministry’s Department of Medical Examination and Treatment Management, told Tuoi Tre that he was aware of the shortage of medical staff.
The department will review the current human resources at all relevant hospitals and work out appropriate solutions, Khue said.
Hanoi has documented 319,250 COVID-19 cases and 1,041 fatalities since the pandemic erupted in Vietnam in early 2020, the health ministry reported.
The daily numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths in the capital city have recently increased, to 18,661 and 20 on Thursday from 2,716 and five a month ago, according to the ministry’s data.
Nationwide, 3,885,631 infections, with 2,550,525 recoveries and 40,547 fatalities, had been recorded by Thursday.
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