Central region in short supply of Covid-19 rapid test kits

In recent days, the Central provinces have continuously recorded a high number of Covid-19 cases in the community, with more than 1,000 community transmissions per day in some provinces. Therefore, the demand for rapid testing has surged drastically, leading to a scarcity of rapid test kits in some localities, such as Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, and Binh Dinh provinces, or even out of stock in some places.

At large pharmacies in Nui Thanh District in Tam Ky City of Quang Nam Province, rapid test kits are scarce. The prices of test kits have increased continuously from suppliers in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, so local pharmacies dare not to import a large volume of test kits. Along with that, recently, the number of people infected with Covid-19 has climbed quickly, causing test kits to be out of stock sometimes.

Tran Minh Phuoc, 54, a resident in An Xuan Ward in Tam Ky City, said that his wife was infected with Covid-19 and was under home treatment, so he needed to buy rapid test kits. However, he could not buy them. “I visited more than ten large and small pharmacies across the city, but I could not find them. All pharmacies said they were out of stock. Finally, I found a place selling test kits at up to VND110,000 per kit, much higher than in previous days. My family has to wait until the specified date to test because every time four people of my family test, it costs almost two days' salary," Phuoc lamented.

As for the inner cities and rural areas of Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh provinces, the prices of Covid-19 test kits of all kinds have soared sharply, and many localities were almost out of stock. In Phu Cat District in Quy Nhon City of Binh Dinh Province, the test kit price jumped from VND60,000 per kit to VND110,000 per kit. In Quy Nhon City alone, at Long Chau Pharmacy in Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, test kits were sold at VND85,000-VND110,000 per kit on the morning of February 26. Many other pharmacies no longer have test kits for sale.

Mr. Tran Duc Tien, Director of the Market Surveillance Department of Binh Dinh Province, said that the province had more than 300 pharmacies. Following the direction of the General Department of Market Surveillance, from February 24, the unit organized inspections to monitor the trading, price control, the origin of medical equipment, and biological products, including test kits at pharmacies. Through inspections, it shows that many pharmacies have run out of stock and have not been able to import goods in time. Previously, the imported price was VND35,000 per kit, now it is VND70,000 per kit.

Many medical facilities in Quang Nam Province have also stopped providing rapid testing service due to the shortage of test kits because the number of F0 and F1 cases has surged rapidly after the Lunar New Year, causing the units to run out of medical-biological products. According to Dr. Pham Thanh Binh, Director of Tam Ky City Medical Center, currently, the number of allocated test kits is only enough to use for F0 cases in concentrated treatment facilities. The center has proposed to allocate more test kits because the number of people infected with Covid-19 in the area is increasing day by day.

Mr. Nguyen Phuong Nam, Vice Chairman of Quy Nhon City People's Committee, informed that the test kits are currently sold out. The price has shot up highly, so it is difficult to coordinate and manage. Meanwhile, the procedure to import test kits is extremely difficult. It takes 1.5 months to import, so it cannot supply people in time. Therefore, the authorities should soon have a mechanism to buy or appoint contractors to overcome this situation.

A leader of the Quang Nam Department of Health said that the department has been actively looking for sources to increase the necessary reserve of test kits. Localities also need to strengthen searching supplies, at the same time, propagandize people to only test following the new guidelines of the Ministry of Health. Particularly, F1 cases injected enough doses of the Covid-19 vaccine only test on the last day of the isolation period to avoid causing waste and scarcity.