Hanoi to conduct real-time PCR testing on large scale to tackle COVID-19 hinh anh 1Chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung (standing) speaks at the online meeting on Auguest 7 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Hanoi has announced a plan to carry out large-scale real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests starting from August 7 on local people who arrived home from COVID-19 hotspot Da Nang between July 15 and 29.

The announcement was made at an online meeting between the central Government and localities on the same day.

Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung said the move followed the capital discovering its fourth COVID-19 case in the community - a woman from outlying Phuc Tho district who visited Da Nang with seven others between July 24 and 27.

According to Chung, 50,000 people will be tested and the task is expected to be completed in 10 to 12 days. The Hanoi Centre for Disease Control and four centrally-run hospitals in the capital are capable of collecting 10,000 samples and testing 5,000 on a daily basis.

Chung said the capital is also speeding up the examination of “F1” people (those having close contact with others who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2) and “F2” people (those interacting with F1 people). F1 are subject to real-time PCR tests and concentrated quarantine, while F2 must practice self-quarantine and have their health monitored regularly.

Chung proposed the Prime Minister allow Hanoi to purchase test kits and raise its disease alert level.

He said local people must wear a face mask in public from August 7 or face a fine.

One day earlier, the municipal Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control convened a meeting at which Secretary of the city’s Party Committee Vuong Dinh Hue requested the activation of all prevention and control systems.

Priority was given to contact tracing, cracking down on illegal immigration, conducting large-scale testing, and assessing local capacity and demand for equipment.

He also ordered that relevant agencies safely organise the national high school graduation examinations, which were scheduled for August 8-10, and remaining district-level Party congresses before August 18.

The city was also set to prepare human and capital resources to support Da Nang and Quang Nam province in their fight against the pandemic.

Hanoi recently raised its COVID-19 alert level as it is currently at “very high” risk of coronavirus transmission, according to Chairman Chung.

At a meeting of the city’s steering committee for COVID-19 prevention and control on August 5, he said Hanoi must conduct PCR tests for the disease even if the number of tests can reach hundreds of thousands since only this testing method can confirm whether a person is negative or positive for SARS-CoV-2.

He asked local hospitals to carry out timely PCR tests for any people returning from pandemic-hit areas and showing cough or fever so that patients won’t have to visit different hospitals like a recent case in Bac Tu Liem district because the later they are detected, the more virus from them could spread to others.

The official demanded continued review of all people coming or returning from central Da Nang city – the current COVID-19 cluster, nearby Quang Nam province and other places related to confirmed patients. Aside from filling in health declarations and being monitored, they also need to self-quarantine at home.

Additionally, any people travelling from Da Nang since July 15 still need to undergo PCR tests though they have had rapid tests, Chung said, asking commune-level clinics, district-level health centres and hotline operating units to send staff to take samples for testing when receiving information from local residents, who must also self-quarantine pending test results.

At the meeting, Chung repeated the request that workplaces in Hanoi must arrange body temperature checking, hand sanitiser and fumigation while keeping a safe distance must be practiced at restaurants, and bars, night clubs, festivals and events with mass gatherings banned.

According to the municipal People’s Committee, a large number of local people have travelled to Da Nang recently./.