The remarkable point in the past 2 weeks is that the number of positive cases in the blockade areas is very high. From July 9 to 22, the total number of F0 cases in the blockade area recorded by the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control (HCDC) was 23,002 cases, accounting for 62.5% of F0 cases in Ho Chi Minh City. In the blockade areas, the number of infections in the past 2 weeks is more than 5 times the number of cases in the community and nearly 2.5 times the number of cases in isolation wards.
The blockade areas in Ho Chi Minh City are now very diverse, including: apartments (popular and high-end), businesses, office buildings, hostels, poor working-class neighborhoods, residential areas with different urban classes. Some blockade areas have large areas and large populations. For example, Thu Duc city has a blockade of Tang Nhon Phu B area with 38,962 people on 2.23 km2or more than 17,000 people/km2. Meanwhile, the city’s average population density is 7159 people/km .2. The number of F0 tends to increase rapidly and strongly in hostels, poor working-class hamlets, working-class residential areas, where population density is high and difficult to manage.
From those objective geographical and demographic characteristics, it leads to the phenomenon of “tight outside in liquid”. The management team at the current blockade areas can prevent F0 from going out, thereby preventing the spread of disease in the community. However, it is difficult for them to prevent communication between individuals in the blockade areas, leading to cross-infection. The number of cases in the blockade area increased in a “closed” environment, while if a case is detected in Ho Chi Minh City, there is no optimal plan to expand the population to other areas, especially with a certain number of people. from a few thousand to several tens of thousands.
For large blockade areas with a large population, district governments are dividing them into subdivisions according to the level of disease risk. This approach is in the right direction, but with the addition of time divergence. Once it is determined that this is a blockade area, people will absolutely not be able to leave their residences, except for two reasons: one is a medical emergency, and the other is to buy essential food up to 2 times a week (use the use vouchers to go to the market/supermarket). Absolutely do not allow direct contact with neighbors for any reason. Food and essential food will be provided at the door to the families with the case of F0/F1 who are isolated at home, so all family members with the case of F0/F1 who are isolated at home can only permission to leave the house in the event of a medical emergency.
The practice of the past time – however – that seriousness is not being observed. Therefore, in the next 15 days, “martial law” is necessary in the blockade areas for at least the first 7 days. Accordingly, the city needs to strengthen the regular police force and students of police schools to perform monitoring tasks in the blockade area. The recommended number of cases is 3 cases/day provided this subject has been vaccinated; and ensure living conditions and protection for the police force stationed in the blockade areas (ward level, neighborhood level and working village level, apartment building). This force is responsible for ensuring the isolation of people and supporting people with their needs for food, medicine and other essential services.
In the initial period, prioritize areas with the highest risk of infection for screening testing and separating F0 from the community. The recent experience of HCMC has shown some effectiveness in single PCR testing for high-risk groups, combined PCR for community screening and antigen testing for people with respiratory symptoms. Some districts are facing difficulties due to lack of human resources and medical equipment for testing. This is a problem that must be thoroughly solved if Ho Chi Minh City still wants to pursue the strategy of “blockade – testing – isolation” to separate F0. The testing capacity of the district must be strengthened through support from the city or from other non-state agencies.
The “iron-clad velvet hand” more than ever needs to be used skillfully, rationally, and empathically!