Presiding at the point of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee was Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, Member of the Politburo, and Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee. Presiding at the point of the municipal People's Committee is Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, Member of the Party Central Committee, Chairman of the municipal People's Committee, and Head of the steering committee for COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control of the city.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, said that with the drastic direction and responsible actions of the departments, sectors and districts, the city so far has controlled the epidemic situation well. However, before the complicated development of the disease, the city also needs to look around to see what the world is facing, why some countries prevent the epidemic well but some others meet many difficulties and then draw lessons for ourselves.

Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong at the meeting (Photo: Ho Chi Minh City Press Centre)

According to him, the first lesson is to limit the spread of the epidemic by wearing a mask, early detection and early isolation of potentially infected people as soon as possible after contact with the virus.

The second lesson is that each person, agency, unit or enterprise needs to share with each other, because this epidemic is not normal. It is not only those who suffer from the disease that will suffer, but eventually each of us will suffer the effects of this epidemic. It is predicted that the epidemic may last a long time, so we must adjust our lifestyle, way of living and working to maintain overall social productivity.

The third lesson is that fighting virus must follow biological rules. Each citizen is a communicator and a monitor as well as joint hands to share with society. 

The Secretary emphasized that apart from wearing a mask in public, washing hands properly, not gathering in crowded places, one important task is to enhance proactive forecast and detection of those at risk of infection from other countries and localities into the city. In case of an infection, it is imperative to immediately seek out contacts for isolation, eliminating the possibility for continued infection.

Ho Chi Minh City has enough masks. The city currently contracts with 16 mask manufacturing companies. If students return to school, the city will provide 50 million masks for students. 

Besides, Mr. Nhan said that the city ensures its capacity for isolation and treatment in COVID-19 prevention and control.

At the meeting, Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong said that the epidemic development is very complicated, Vietnam is entering a new stage of epidemic prevention. The chairman requested the departments, sectors and Chairmen of the districts to urgently implement Directive 26 and Official Letter 904 by the Municipal People's Committee on epidemic prevention.

The Department of Health needs to prepare scenarios to respond to each object, focusing on facilities to be ready to respond to outbreaks on a large scale. Regarding concentrated isolation areas, the chairman asked the city to have 25,000 places of isolation, screening and zoning for each level of infection in order to avoid cross-contamination during isolation.

It is expected that the new quarantine area in the military zone will be used in order to receive quarantined people in the southeastern provinces.

In addition, Professor and Doctor Nguyen Tan Binh, Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, said that in the new period, with a high risk of infection from Europe, the Department of Health will continue to strictly control border gates, medical declarations are required for both international and domestic guests, especially for those with connecting flights through epidemic-hit areas. 

Currently, the number of Vietnamese tourists coming from European and American countries is very large, so the medical quarantine at border gates is very difficult, the Department of Health is proposing to get medical declarations and testing samples of these guests at the quarantine location to avoid congestion.

In terms of testing, a representative from the Department of Health said that the city now has 3,000 kits available for COVID-19 testing. From now to the end of March, there are 10,000 kits for wide-area testing. In April, 20,000 sets of test kits will be added and an additional 20,000 sets of test kits will be provided in May and June./.