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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Health Ministry advises against stockpiling medical oxygen, ventilators

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – The Health Ministry has advised against buying or stocking up on medical oxygen and ventilators as it could cause an unnecessary waste of medical resources for the Covid-19 fight.

Any shortfall of ventilators could put hospitals at risk of lacking necessary medical equipment to treat Covid patients, said Nguyen Trong Khoa, deputy head of the ministry’s Medical Service Administration.

He was referring to an on-going situation in which the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus has prompted locals to buy medical devices such as ventilators and oxygen concentrators.

Since the current fourth coronavirus wave began on April 27, the country has reported over 52,000 infections in 58 of its 63 provinces and cities. HCMC is now the biggest hotspot with over 32,000 cases. The rapid surge in cases has overwhelmed the medical system, resulting in public concern that hospital beds might fall short in the foreseeable future.

The deputy head of the Medical Service Administration said that it is essential to use respiratory support equipment for Covid-19 patients who suffer from respiratory failure and shortness of breath. However, not all coronavirus patients need to be put on a ventilator.

According to data recorded in the fourth wave, some 80% of the new cases are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, around 5% of them need oxygen therapy, 0.17% require non-invasive ventilation and 1.3% are in need of invasive ventilation.

Besides, the installation and operation of the ventilation system are different from and more demanding than that of other popular health monitoring devices such as thermometers, blood pressure monitors and blood glucose meters that people can use at home.

Therefore, installing and operating the ventilation system needs to be done at medical facilities that are adequately equipped with auxiliary equipment and requires well-trained workers. Also, when a patient is put on a ventilator, he or she needs to be monitored and checked by medical workers periodically, and has to undergo some essential tests so that further medical measures can be taken in a timely manner, Khoa said.

He asserted that it is impossible to set up ventilation support equipment at home, as well as to send specialized medical teams to operate and monitor the use of ventilation support equipment to local households.

Commenting on the locals’ increased interest in medical oxygen supply, the health official affirmed that the health ministry and HCMC pledged a sufficient amount of oxygen supply and locals should not be worried.

According to the ministry’s survey, the ability of local producers to supply medical oxygen is 30 times higher than the current demand of local hospitals. The country, especially HCMC, is not facing any shortage of oxygen supply, he added.

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