The Prime Minister has just issued Directive No.16/CT-TTg on the implementation of urgent measures to prevent and combat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Under the directive, the PM ordered a 15-day period of nationwide social distancing starting 00:00 on April 1, with the principle of every household, village, commune, district and province going into self-quarantine. Factories and workshops are required to ensure a safe distance between workers, facemasks must be worn, and workplaces must be sterilised according to regulations. In March and April, many localities had areas locked down and quarantined because of COVID-19, such as Binh Thuan province; Ha Loi village, Me Linh commune of Hanoi; and some localities of Ha Nam province.
The country is now in a quarantine period similar to the situation that people in Son Loi commune, Binh Xuyen district, Vinh Phuc province experienced more than one month ago.
VietnamPlus interviewed Nguyen Trong Khoa – Deputy Director of the Administration of Medical Services under the Ministry of Health, who is in charge of the special task force of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Vinh Phuc, to gather a better understanding.
Reporter: Recently, Son Loi commune of Vinh Phuc province was locked down for 21 days. Having stayed with the people of Son Loi commune, what impressed you the most?
Nguyen Trong Khoa: The most impressive thing for me was that, despite being quarantined, the activities of local people still took place as normal.
When we came to the families, the people were very nice. When going to the temporary market, people still sold goods and said they only sold commodities to villagers.
At checkpoints, all forces from soldiers, police, health workers, other forces, and staff of medical stations engaged in the fight.
The Son Loi Medical Station had a total of more than 90 volunteers joining 30 medical groups to monitor, measure body temperatures, and conduct health checks for nearly 10,000 people here daily.
The 30 medical teams did a huge amount of work every day, but no one complained or quit their jobs. Everyone was very active.
Reporter: As the person responsible for monitoring medical workers in the lockdown area, what did your team do at that time?
Nguyen Trong Khoa: My team conducted screening and took people showing signs of fever to quarantine areas for testing.
The Ministry of Health and Vinh Phuc province cooperated in performing the work at the Quang Ha General Clinic (with many doctors from the Bach Mai Hospital, the National Children’s Hospital and the Central Lung Hospital). Health checks were conducted at medical stations. We received full support, with portable X-ray scanners, ultrasound equipment, ECG machines, quick blood glucose test equipment and monitors.
During the 21 days of lockdown in Son Loi, doctors here provided nearly 500 health check-ups. In addition, nearly 100 patients were transferred to the Phuc Yen Regional General Hospital and higher-level hospitals for emergency and treatment. Reporter: Could you elaborate on the difficulties in the transfer of patients to higher-level hospitals in the context of lockdown in Son Loi?
Nguyen Trong Khoa: The task was not simple, requiring a process that ensured the commune’s people did not contact others outside. The patients were transported by an ambulance which has two compartments: one for the driver and one for patients.
At the Phuc Yen Regional General Hospital, a separate 110-bed area was arranged for medical examination and treatment of Son Loi patients. About 20 women in the commune gave birth during 20 days of lockdown. Their deliveries were performed by doctors in the isolated area of the hospital. Doctors arranged delivery tables and an operating room for those from Son Loi commune.
Similarly, for dialysis patients, the dialysis machines were arranged in a separate room to ensure that Son Loi people with normal diseases did not have to go to the common area to avoid the risk of spreading the coronavirus to other people and the community. These were very difficult jobs but the Son Loi people were very cooperative and assured of all medical services.
In addition, together with the Binh Xuyen Medical Center, we opened a health insurance area. All patients who were treated here had their treatment costs covered by health insurance. The transferred patients were those with diabetes, hypertension, chronic diseases and palliative care. We even had to go to central-level hospitals to get medicine for some patients.
This showed that, within 21 days of lockdown, all medical services for people in Son Loi commune were provided at the medical station. Any cases that could not be served here were transferred to higher-level hospitals by special vehicles in line with safety procedures. In particular, there was a separate room at the Phuc Yen Regional General Hospital for two dialysis patients from Son Loi commune while 20 women giving birth at the hospital were carried by specialised vehicles. Reporter: Could you share more about the activities of the working groups in the lockdown area?
Nguyen Trong Khoa: There were two groups: one of the Ministry of Health and the other of the provincial People’s Committee. We stayed at the district canteen and were provided lunch there.
Some doctors who were sent to hospitals or medical stations, they cooked for themselves at the sites and were on duty around the clock.
Reporter: After three weeks of staying in Son Loi, when the lockdown order was lifted, what were your feelings?
Nguyen Trong Khoa: Actually, this was a very long working trip. Before my working trips lasted only one week, including those abroad. The day we met again after the lockdown in Son Loi was removed, we were very happy. We had this feeling not only because we met again after a long time, but because our working teams already fulfilled the tasks.
When we came here, we determined that everything could happen at any time. The most important element is to provide the best medical examination and treatment and health care for the people so that they can be assured. In particular, we must do our best to detect suspect cases as early as possible to avoid transmission in the community.
Reporter: What is the happiest thing after the “victory” in Son Loi?
Nguyen Trong Khoa: The best news is that we have not recently detected any new cases of COVID-19. Everything goes smoothly and people here are well cared for.
Reporter: Thank you very much!