Many new Covid-19 cases detected in HCMC recently are of people visiting hospitals seeking treatment for other health problems, meaning their transmission sources are unclear.
The number of daily cases in HCMC has kept passing the 130 mark for over a week now, making up the highest number of cases reported nationwide.
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Over the past two weeks, the city has been detecting new infections without clear sources of transmission every day.
Part of the cases are related to clusters the city has identified, but more than a few have only been detected after patients visited local hospitals for health examinations and a screening step later revealed they’d contracted the new coronavirus.
It means the virus has spread quietly in the community, according to the city’s Center for Disease Control.
On Wednesday, of 152 cases confirmed in HCMC, 21 were detected after visiting local hospitals for their medical checkups. They are residents of districts of 1, 4, 7, 8, 10, 12, Binh Tan, Phu Nhuan, and Thu Duc City.
On Tuesday, as the city recorded 136 patients, nine were found in similar circumstances, having come on their own for health checks to local hospitals.
The ratio was 137:19 last Sunday, 135:20 last Saturday and 149:13 last Friday.
So far in the new wave that broke out two months ago, many healthcare facilities in the city have had to suspend operations or placed under lockdown after finding patients with Covid-19.
Most recently, the Saigon General Hospital on Le Loi Street of District 1 was locked down starting Tuesday after it received five different patients who were confirmed positive for the novel coronavirus later.
Truong Huu Khanh, consultant at the infectious diseases department at HCMC Children’s Hospital No.1, said the continuous detection of new cases through spontaneous medical examinations at hospitals shows that the anti-Covid-19 strategy adopted so far, which is locating, isolating and conducting mass testing in affected areas, is not enough.
He proposed an adjustment that allows local people to get the coronavirus test as soon as they wish, such as at medical centers in the ward and district where they live, instead of going all the way to some big hospitals and getting the test via their regular screening step.
With more hospitals detecting infections in the new outbreak, many people are now hesitant to visit hospitals and therefore, by the time they develop Covid-19 symptoms and seek medical checks, it is already too late for effective contact tracing.
“If the process of tracking down the source of transmissions and all those who have come into contact with a Covid-19 patient begins only after the latter is found positive, it will not be possible to deal with the outbreak thoroughly,” Khanh said.
HCMC is facing its most challenging disease outbreak ever.
Last Sunday, the southern metropolis overtook the northern province of Bac Ninh as the locality with the second highest number of local infections in the new wave. Its case count hit 2,074 Wednesday night.
The city is going through its fourth week of social distancing restrictions, which started May 31.