HANOI: Vietnam is offering patients who have recovered from the coronavirus a monthly allowance if they agree to stay on at stretched hospitals to help health workers struggling to cope with an influx of infected people.
After successfully containing COVID-19 for much of the pandemic, Vietnam is facing its worst outbreak to date driven by the virulent Delta variant, with a surge in cases and deaths ramping up pressure on health authorities.
The plan to bring in recovered patients was launched this week in Ho Chi Minh City, which is the epicentre of the current outbreak, accounting for half of the country's nearly 185,000 infections and 7,302 deaths, or about 80% of total fatalities.
Working alongside health workers, the role of the former patients in the programme, called "patient zero with patient zero", is to support public healthcare services.
"Participants will be provided with personal protective equipment, food, accommodation and a monthly allowance of 8 million dong ($350.80)," according to a letter reviewed by Reuters that was sent from the head of a hospital taking part of the scheme to recovered COVID-19 patients.
The field hospital No.8 treated at least 10,000 patients in July.
In recent weeks, Vietnam's health ministry has dispatched 14,600 additional doctors and nurses to the city and its neighbouring provinces to support an overwhelmed medical system.
"I don't care much about the allowance, I just want to help burned out healthcare workers," Nguyen Hoang Anh, who recovered from the virus a few weeks ago, said by telephone.
"I believe my presence at the hospital will give strength to patients who are battling against the virus," said Anh, who has applied to become a participant.
Hit by the Delta variant, the Southeast Asian country reported a record 10,811 infections on Tuesday, up more than ten-fold on daily levels at the start of July.