HCM CITY — HCM City’s hospitals and private clinics have been told to ensure an adequate and prompt supply of oxygen for COVID patients, and to get ready for the spread of the now-dominant Omicron variant.
The municipal Health Department has warned that the situation remains unpredictable, with the number of cases expected to rise in the coming days.
Hospitals and medical units are recommended to develop anti-pandemic plans based on hospital admissions.
They must work with medical oxygen suppliers to ensure the supply and have oxygen reserve for at least one week.
Experts said oxygen is one of the essential requirements for treating COVID patients, and cities and provinces are frequently instructed to ensure sufficient supply.
At the peak of the fourth wave of the pandemic, the city had 11 suppliers with a capacity of around 842 tonnes of liquid oxygen per day.
During the fourth wave, the city asked the central Government to help increase the supply of liquid oxygen for the treatment of COVID as the city was unable to procure enough for its hospitals.
Dr Tăng Chí Thượng, director of Health Department, said the city had developed a worst-scenario plan to respond to the surge in cases of COVID, especially in school-age children.
It plans to increase the number of beds at the city’s three children’s hospitals and mobilise pediatric departments at hospitals if the number of cases among children continues to rise.
Three children’s hospitals in the city are currently treating 100 children COVID patients, of which 89 per cent have mild to moderate symptoms, he said.
“Face-to-face learning could be suspended if the number of severe cases reaches more than 100 cases a day. There are currently only five severe cases requiring hospitalisation among children every day.”
The department has worked with pediatric specialists to discuss COVID treatment for children.
It will provide training for medical staff in COVID treatment for children. Teachers will also be trained to handle students who tested positive for COVID, especially to notice warning signs of severe cases.
Schools must continue to follow the health ministry’s guidelines on COVID-19 prevention and control at educational institutions, including observing safe distancing, wearing masks and getting vaccinated.
Students are asked to remain a safe distance from their classmates and students in other classes, avoid sharing personal items and wash their hands frequently.
Last week, the city recorded 706 teachers and 6,799 students infected with COVID at some 200 schools across the city, up from 449 at 117 schools from the previous week.
According to the health department, the number of children under 12 years old, who have not been vaccinated, accounted for 93 per cent of the cases.
As of February 22, nearly 80 per cent of students across the country have resumed direct learning, according to the Ministry of Education and Training.
According to random testings from February 10 to 17, a total of 70 out of 92 samples that were sequenced were positive for the Omicron variant, accounting for 76 per cent.
The city will continue to protect at-risk groups, including people aged 65 and above, people with underlying medical conditions, obese children and others.
Preliminary data suggest that the Omicron variant spreads more quickly than the original virus but generally causes less severe infection than prior variants.
Experts have warned that even if the highly contagious variant causes milder disease, many cases could collapse the healthcare system.
The city has had more than 520,000 infections since the fourth wave of pandemics that began last April. — VNS