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Vietnam to assist Lao in Covid 19 battle

Vietnam Health Ministry is sending experienced specialists to Laos to help set up Covid-19 testing systems and field hospitals as new infections are surging across the country.

Vietnam to assist Lao in Covid 19 battle

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long at the virtual meeting on April 29 (Photo: VNE)

In a virtual meeting with Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long on April 29, Lao Health Minister Bounfeng Phoummalaysith said the pandemic has been taking a heavy toll in Laos, spreading to 15 out of its 18 provinces. Daily new infection tally tops 100 cases, sourced mostly from illegal entrants. No deaths reported.

Hospitals in Vientiane capital are overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients and running out of beds and equipment. Officials turn to field hospitals for admission and treatment.

Laos needs 10 Realtime RT-PCR machines with a capacity of 40,000 samples a day, said Phoummalaysith, expressing his hope for Vietnam’s assistance with equipment, supplies and treatment.

"Laos wishes to have Vietnam's help with experts for testing and sharing other lessons," he was quoted by VNE.

On his part, Long said Vietnam will send Laos 200 ventilators, two million face masks, 10 tons of chloroquine and other anti-Covid equipment. Vietnamese experts are also dispatched to Laos to help locals set up makeshift medical facilities and testing systems, including ICU system for treatment of critical patients.

Vietnamese specialists will also provide distant Covid-19 treatment via telehealth systems, which are to be set up at treatment facilities in Laos.

Laos Red Cross volunteers raise awareness on the symptoms of Covid-19 and the means to protect oneself from it, in a market in Vientiane, Laos, April 30, 2020. Photo by Laos Red Cross/Handout via Reuters.

At the meeting, Long also shared Vietnam’s pandemic containing experiences with his counterpart. Accordingly, Vietnam synchronously deployed all activities “in the quickest time possible” to prevent the novel epidemic from going viral, especially in the community. The country has been vigorously and thoroughly tracing people who'd had contact with positive cases.

Vietnam has also been applying the combining sample strategy, which has a range of 5 - 16 samples depending on different areas.

“This helps to boost testing capacity and solve the human resources shortage problem,” Long explained. “To date, Vietnam has tested for over 2 million people, with testing speed significantly improved, notably during the third wave in Hai Duong province.”

Long said Vietnam has been asking people who have close contact with infected ones (F1) to go to quarantine centers to take pathogens out of the community, cutting off the transmission.

Patients with severe illness are treated at hospitals equipped with emergency resuscitation systems, cases without symptoms or having mild ones are treated at field hospitals, he explained.

“From the beginning, Vietnam has established the distant treatment system via telehealth to connect 1,500 medical facilities across all provinces and cities,” Long added. “Covid-19 patients treated at any given facilities will receive prompt support from leading experts.”

With serious cases, Vietnam conducts systematic consultations to find the most effective treatments. Therefore, during the third Covid-19 wave, the country had a high number of infections but no deaths, according to VNE.

After over one month of no community infections, Vietnam on April 29 confirmed 5 such cases, all related to Patient 2899 in Ha Nam province.

Patient 2899 returned from Japan on April 7 and was released from a concentrated quarantine site in Da Nang on April 22 after completing two weeks in quarantine and testing negative for the coronavirus three times. After returning to his home in the northern province of Ha Nam, he showed symptoms of coughing, fever, and sore throat, and turned out to be positive on April 24. Four others in his family also contracted the virus. Another case detected in Ho Chi Minh City was also connected to Patient 2899.

On the morning of April 30, 3 more domestically transmitted cases found in Hung Yen and Hanoi.

Jasmine Le

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