Technological "weapon" in fight against COVID-19

Wednesday, 2021-06-09 09:41:46
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The application of information technology in taking samples for COVID-19 testing in Ve commune, Tien Du district, Bac Ninh. Photo: ANH TUAN
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NDO – Implementing the Prime Minister's strategy on epidemic prevention and control, including the principle of "5K plus vaccine and technology", in the two COVID-19 outbreak hotspots of Bac Ninh and Bac Giang, forces are using information technology (IT) as "a weapon" in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Assoc. Prof, Dr. Tran Quy Tuong, director general of the Agency of Information Technology under the Ministry of Health, the Deputy Head of the Special permanent department of the Ministry of Health to support Covid-19 epidemic prevention and control in Bac Ninh province and the Department of Information and Communications of Bac Ninh province advised the Provincial Steering Committee to set up an Information Analysis Team to analyse data sources, propose tracing, testing and assess the risk of infection, and make timely recommendations on disease prevention and control.

The messaging system was also built to quickly and promptly implement the instructions of the Provincial Steering Committee to members of the COVID-19 Community Support Team.

On the other hand, the province has also strengthened communicating and mobilising people in the province to install and use electronic medical declarations such as the Vietnam Health Declaration, NCOVI and Bluezone applications; instructing agencies, units, People's Committees of districts, towns and cities to create and scan QR codes and medical declarations at offices, units, and public areas.

Up to now, Bac Ninh province has seen nearly 580,000 people install and use the Bluezone application on smartphones, accounting for more than 42% of the province's population. The province ranks 2nd out of 63 provinces and cities nationwide in terms of the number of users installing and using the Bluezone application. The province has 10,519 establishments that have made medical declarations using QR codes with the Bluezone application. According to statistics from the Medical Declaration Management System, the total number of medical declarations in Bac Ninh to June 1 was 1,059,179, the figure from May 1 to June 1 standing at 824,862.

For workers, the Management Board of Industrial Parks has coordinated with the Department of Information and Communications to develop information management software for all workers in industrial parks, helping manage, supervise and trace quickly when there is a new COVID-19 case in the industrial park; as well as provide timely data for direction and administration.

With the support of the Agency of Information Technology under the Ministry of Health, Bac Giang province has also set up a 15-person team using technology to monitor and trace contacts of new COVID-19 patients. Team members were provided with accounts and trained in data extraction from the Medical Declaration Management System for monitoring and tracing.

As of June 1, the team has made 3,976 calls to people who have symptoms or epidemiological factors. The team has instructed them to take appropriate measures to prevent and control the epidemic or transfer their information to commune and district level for verification and direct handling. Based on the system's information, the team has detected 66 F1 cases currently isolated at home. It transferred the information to the district level for management according to regulations.

As of May 31, Bac Giang province had 480,306 people who have installed and are using the Bluezone application on their smartphones, accounting for 26.63% of the province's population. The province ranks 9th out of 63 provinces and cities nationwide in terms of the number of people having installed and who areusing Bluezone application.

For the current epidemic prevention and control situation, quickly tracing positive cases (F0) for COVID-19, and making a list of F1, F2 cases is very important in order to control the spread of the disease. In areas with a small number of cases, medical staff and other forces can trace, but when the number of patients increases, the technological solution is the optimal choice as there is not enough human resources to directly carry out tracing.

The Ministry of Health has issued a Decision to provide instructions for citizens, businesses, and facilities to utilize medical declaration apps in detecting transmission risks from close contacts. One of the important purposes of the decision is to support the implementation of medical declarations. Electronic devices help manage and monitor health, as well as detect early F0 cases, effectively serving the Covid-19 epidemic prevention and control fight.

Accordingly, individuals who own smartphone devices need to install these apps, file medical declarations, and generate a personal QR code to help with contact tracing in the future. It is necessary to open the contact detection app Bluezone and activate Bluetooth connection while individuals are in public spaces to detect the risk of transmission in their vicinity. People in quarantine or under health monitoring who own smartphone devices, after leaving quarantine are obliged to install medical declaration and contact tracing apps. When going to places where medical declaration is required, it is necessary to give the QR code to staff.

Heads of agencies, units, organisations, establishments, and locations are responsible for controlling the information of people entering and leaving, and providing information to the competent authorities in case of necessity.

If people, agencies and units strictly follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health, when detecting a F0 case, the tracing and listing of F1, F2 will be timely.

The COVID-19 outbreak hotspot of Bac Giang (which is much different from the previous outbreak hotspot in terms of its scale, extent and time) saw a team of experts from the Ministry of Health use IT to develop a framework plan on sampling, screening, and tracing.

According to this plan, the taking of samples for testing has been organised in a systematic and scientific manner. The sampling area must ensure protection from infection for medical staff, health workers and people. Until now, the sample management system developed by the team of experts from the Ministry of Health has contributed to basically solving the problem of sample overload, the lack of information on samples and the delayed return of test results in the early stages of the outbreak.

HOANG THANG