The otherwise busy overpass on Nguyễn Chí Thanh Street, Hà Nội, is largely devoid of traffic in the rush hour, early August. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Đạt
HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội’s authorities decided on Friday to extend the city's social distancing order until 6am on September 6, 2021, amid new COVID-19 infections in the community and complicated developments in many other localities.
The information was announced by Nguyễn Văn Phong, Vice Secretary of Hà Nội's Party Committee during a press briefing on Friday regarding COVID-19 prevention and efforts.
Hà Nội's health department director Trần Thị Nhị Hà said the lockdown was a timely measure that would help rein in the spread of the virus, but the risks remained at a high level and were unpredictable given that new clusters of infections were found every day, including cases found through screening of people with suspected symptoms like fever and coughing.
Currently, in line with Government's Directive 16, all residents are told to continue to stay at home and only go outside for necessary purposes – buying essential items, food, medicine, or emergency needs, for COVID-19 vaccination appointments, or working at essential businesses and agencies allowed to open.
The education department is told to hold a virtual school year opening ceremony on September 5 (Sunday) and subsequent portions of the curriculum in a safe and effective manner.
The city's authorities have also said it would ensure undisrupted supply chains of the city and market stability, guarantee safety in delivering food and other essential goods to all residents (especially in locked down areas and quarantine facilities) so that no one is left wanting.
Trần Thị Phương Lan, acting director of the city's commerce and industry, said it had told businesses, supermarkets, and convenience stores to increase their inventory, and assured that residents wouldn't need to stockpile food and essential items.
More mobile selling locations, including on repurposed buses, will be deployed, especially directly to workers' boarding areas.
Residents of Hàng Bông Street in the Old Quarter of Hà Nội wait in line on Friday morning to get COVID-19 tests during a mass screening effort. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Đạt
This latest extension of the social distancing order would make the longest COVID-19 lockdown the capital city has ever enforced since the entire nation came under Directive 16 and completely shut its border earlier last year when the coronavirus reached pandemic status.
The city is carrying out mass testing for 1 million residents considered high-risk to ‘filter out’ hidden virus carriers in the community.
Since late April, the start of the fourth wave in Việt Nam, the capital city recorded 2,695 cases of COVID-19, with almost half of them community-acquired infections.
As of today, Hà Nội has administered 2.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine – not counting the doses given by ministry-level hospitals and facilities headquartered here – and 40.07 per cent of the population above 18 years old have received at least one dose of vaccine.
About 48 per cent of workers in industrial parks and manufacturing facilities have been inoculated, according to Vice Secretary Nguyễn Văn Phong.
The city would continue to prioritise high-risk groups in the next vaccination effort: frontline workers, guards of buildings, shippers, drivers, and those working in supply chains, Phong said.
Hà Nội was also building more quarantine facilities far from the city's urban centres, with current capacity at 30,000 and moving towards 70,000-100,000 soon, Phong added.
The city would focus on improving the capacity of the health sector with more equipment (especially oxygen systems), training for medical staff, and more facilities to receive asymptomatic or really mild COVID-19 cases with a capacity of 10,000-30,000, the official said.
Also today, the Hà Nội's Department of Information and Communications refuted a rumour spread on social media that the capital city would enforce a hard lockdown where no movement would be allowed for seven days starting Monday, urging people to be more cautious when reading purported 'news items' online. — VNS