The government of Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday questioned the city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment for issuing a letter regarding the cremation of Wuhan pneumonia patients which was revoked later by the department due to a serious mistake creating public confusion.
The department’s letter dated March 26 and addressed to the three companies operating cremation facilities asking them to report how they would respond in case of continuous operation as well as what safety measures would be applied to prevent the spread of Wuhan Flu when conducting this activity.
The letter quickly appeared on social media and the controversy involved a paragraph describing an emergency situation that could be “required cremation of critically ill patients suffering from Covid-19.” This leads to the understanding that some patients may be burned while still alive.
Nguyen Toan Thang, the director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, on Saturday acknowledged the “flaws” in the document related to cremation activities and ordered the recall of the document.
In a letter sent to the department the same day, the City People’s Committee blamed the department for affecting the city’s pandemic prevention and creating a “bewilderment mentality” in public.
“Strictly criticize of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment. Request the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to review, clarify responsibilities, propose disciplinary measures for related individuals, and report to the Chairman of the City People’s Committee by March 28,” the city’s letter stated.
Throughout the night of March 27, the document “burning live patients” was disseminated at a dizzying speed on social networks. On Facebook, there was a conflict of words causing verbal abuse by the public opinion that this text is fake in order to confuse public fear. It was not until the morning of March 28 when a photo of another document from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment appeared to demand to revoke the old document before people believed that the document was true.
“The errors of the text are not consistent with the current situation of the prevention of Wuhan Flu in the city,” said Nguyen Toan Thang. “As soon as we received feedback from the public, we reviewed the entire content and revoked the document.”
The City People’s Committee affirmed that the city’s disease prevention is under “good control,” adding that the city now has 44 cases of Wuhan Flu with three hospital discharged cases, stable health and no death by the disease.
“The City People’s Committee has no policy, does not direct the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to promulgate the contents according to the Official Letter No. 2285 / STNMT-CTR above.”
The March 26 letter of the department caused a backlash that caused the department and the city’s Department of Information and Communications to hold an information session to rectify and find ways to control the rumors on social network.
“The view of Ho Chi Minh City is not to hide and make public all information related to the Wuhan Flu outbreak,” said Tu Luong, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Information and Communications. “Since the issuance of the document, there have been many rumors with inaccurate information saying the city has dead cases from the disease.”
Facebooker Huytran Hanoi said: “Such a document leads to ordinary people to be bewildered and annoyed. I was shocked after reading the document. I request dismissal of inhumane officials right away!”
HCM City-based reader Dat Huynh commented: “Everyone understands that they are preparing for the mass deaths from Covid-19 outbreak, but it is clear that the person who composed and signed this document did not review it before issuing it. It shows the irresponsibility and negligence in work.”
Facebooker Pham Le Vuong comments: “People in the government often get ‘sensitive’ information that people rarely know, and they always have it in advance. From this information they can predict the situation and foresee things to come in the future. And if it happens in reality, this is a timely wake-up call for each of us to be cautious in the prevention of Covid-19.”
From Hanoi Dr. Nguyen Xuan Dien said: “To be honest this is the most terrible confusing information since the beginning of the epidemic so far! Because it predicts a great number of death and burial! In my opinion, the head of the department must be dismissed immediately.”
Lawyer Trinh Vinh Phuc in HCM City commented on the Official Letter revoking the original mistake:
“People may understand and forgive after state officials correcting their mistakes. However, the department revoked its official letter without giving reason, explanation, and even did not apologize for the careless error that caused the community to be confused …! “
The pandemic situation in Hanoi has become more urgent and complicated than ever due to the large-scale infection in Bach Mai Hospital because the number of people qualified for quarantine hits tens of thousands.
As many as 40,000 people who visited the hospital are requested to be under quarantine, Thanh Nien newspaper said on March 30.
With such a large number of people, it is impossible for Hanoi City to supervise and manage each person, because not all of them leave their phone numbers or addresses. In addition, they have moved to different places and met with many peoples during long times, making great possibility of cross infection. Chairman Chung affirmed this and was quoted by many newspapers.
And yet, on the morning of March 30, Hanoi City held the 27th meeting of the Steering Committee for Wuhan Flu Prevention. At the meeting, Hanoi City Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung proposed to retest more than 7,000 medical staff. at Bach Mai Hospital.
“I propose to the Hospital Board that all tests performed by the hospital with the medical staff announced on March 19-24 are not valid; must be retested and safe after March 28 because from the previous days, though they are negative, they still travel and contact.”
“If they do not do right now, they will have a wobbly psychology. Hanoi will support the hospital to complete the earliest retesting with more than 7,000 health workers there,” said the chairman of Hanoi City.
At the meeting, Mr. Chung stated that the outbreak at Bach Mai hospital has infected 4 other provinces and cities: Ha Nam, Ninh Binh, Thai Nguyen and Nam Dinh, and spread to nearly 20 districts.
“In a short time it will spread to 30 districts. The problem is only a little bit of time. Because all the people involved in Bach Mai Hospital are in huge numbers right now while the infection rate is very high,” Chung said.
In order to limit the spread of Covid-19 from the outbreak at Bach Mai Hospital, Chung requested that the propaganda be strong until everyone is exposed to the word “Bach Mai.”
Chung frankly told the press: “Covid-19 infection from Bach Mai hospital could infect the community in the next few days. Not only that, the epidemic in Bach Mai Hospital is more complicated than 3 hospitals located in Daegu (South Korea), Lombardy (Italy) and New York (USA). The situation here is the same as it was in Wuhan before the outbreak.”
The chairman assessed that the “outbreak” at Bach Mai Hospital was the biggest, most complicated “outbreak” and potentially contagious in the city, as well as some provinces and cities across the country. “The Ministry of Health has only announced 12 positive cases at Bach Mai Hospital, but our figures know that this number is nearly 20,” Chung said.
Every day, about 600-700 people come here to eat and drink, about 250 people on weekends. In addition, the hospital’s cooking unit provides food for approximately 5,000 to 6,000 staff a day. About 2,000 to 3,000 students, trainees from Hanoi and other provinces also come here to eat and drink. “Very likely in the coming days. If that happens, only in the next week. So we see, Bach Mai Hospital is one of the most complex places, the greatest risk of spread,” Chung said.
Mr. Chung said, he has asked a number of disease prevention experts in the world to re-analyze the data related to Bach Mai Hospital to assess the risk of spreading Covid-19 out to the community. Experts said that the disease in Bach Mai Hospital is more complicated than 3 hospitals located in Daegu (South Korea), Lombardy (Italy) and New York (USA).
“This case is similar to Wuhan on the occasion of Tet holiday, after infection many people have moved around,” Chung noted.
Thu Thuy from Hochiminh city – Thoibao.de (Translated)