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Saigon Pilots Home Quarantine for F1 Cases, Albeit With Strict Criteria

To ease mounting pressure on centralized quarantine facilities, Vietnam has agreed to let those who have had direct contact with confirmed COVID-19 cases (F1) in Ho Chi Minh City to isolate at home on a trial basis.

Over the weekend, the Ministry of Health issued a set of suggested guidelines for home quarantine in Saigon, similar to northern hot spots in Bac Ninh and Bac Giang. While this scheme will improve the level of comfort for F1 individuals, not all households can carry it out.

To qualify, the ministry requires the homestead to be detached or semi-detached houses and not high-rise apartments. Houses must comprise a separate room and toilet for the individual under quarantine away from common areas. Caretakers must leave provisions outside the room without any interaction. Air-conditioning is allowed, but the quarantined person is encouraged to frequently ventilate the room.

F1’s secluded at home must measure their temperature twice daily, install health declaration apps like Bluzone, and sanitize their living area and trash bags with alcohol solutions. They are also prohibited from leaving the designated quarantine area and interacting with family members and pets. Five COVID-19 tests will be administered, on Day 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28 of the four-week quarantine. The full guidelines are available here.

In an interview on June 30 with VnExpress, Nguyễn Thị Liên Hương, an official from the health ministry, shared that based on the results of the trial in HCMC, the ministry might propose to expand it to the entire country.

Hương said that the trial was built based on Vietnam’s existing stipulations for quarantining children. Vietnam has allowed F1’s and F2’s who are younger than five to home-quarantine with their caretakers since this February. The scheme has been employed relatively smoothly and no locality has had negative feedback, she explained. Still, Hương cautioned that the situation might get complicated when there are more adult F1’s who live in many areas, leading to a shortage of health personnel to check on them.

Dr. Nguyễn Viết Nhung, director of the Central Lung Hospital in Hanoi, voiced concerns that the home quarantine guidelines are too strict in requiring separate houses, as “not many can qualify, especially in big cities in HCMC.”

[Photo by Độc Lập via Thanh Nien]