|A checkpoint set up in Quảng Ninh Province on Thursday after a major cluster of COVID-19 infections were detected. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc issued a directive on Thursday ordering a 21-day lockdown of a northern city of more than 200,000 people and the closure of a large international airport, following the detection of major clusters of community COVID-19 cases.
The 84 new cases reported earlier Thursday morning represent the biggest increase of local transmission cases in Việt Nam since the pandemic began, the directive noted, adding that the many cases found in Hải Dương Province with a highly transmissible variant of the virus first reported in the UK might lead to widespread infections.
The lockdown of Chí Linh City in Hải Dương Province, where cases of the new variant of coronavirus in the community were announced earlier Thursday morning – and likely more to come – was in effect starting at noon on Thursday.
Residents are asked to stay home and only leave their places of residence for essential needs (buying food, medicines, or medical emergencies), go to work (at agencies, factories, business and service establishments deemed essential and not told to close down), and other emergencies.
Outside the places of residence or workplace, meetings and gatherings of more than two people are forbidden, while a distance of two metres must be kept.
All schools, entertainment venues, and non-essential businesses will be shut down.
Public transport out of Chí Linh City, except in cases of official affairs or other urgent needs, is suspended.
Operations of personal vehicles will be reduced.
However, the directive noted that measures should be in place to make sure that the transport of goods and materials for production activities must go on uninterrupted.
The order to shut down the operations of Vân Đồn International Airport in Quảng Ninh Province, where 10 cases of COVID-19 were detected among security personnel, is also effective from noon on Thursday and lasting for 14 days.
The directive told the chairs of Hải Dương Province People’s Committee and Quảng Ninh Province People’s Committee to shut down all businesses failing to comply with COVID-19 measures, and charges the local leaders with the responsibility to direct swift contact tracing and suppressing the outbreak, mass testing as well as place all suspected cases – including direct contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients – under 21-day quarantine.
The chairmen also have the authority to impose various degrees of social distancing restrictions over areas that the authorities deem necessary, depending on the outbreak situation.
|Health workers collecting samples from close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hưng Đạo Commune, Chí Linh City, Hải Dương Province on Thursday. — VNA/VNS Photo Mạnh Ninh
The administrations of centrally-directed provinces and cities will need to carry out thorough evaluation of pandemic prevention measures across all establishments and facilities – including factories, schools, industrial zones, and places where large gatherings occur – and impose social distancing measures when needed.
People are told to wear masks, keep a distance, and avoid congregating in crowds.
The directive also asks the Ministry of Health to provide resources to help Quảng Ninh and Hải Dương stamp out the outbreak, and prepare scenarios and plans to deal with a worsening situation.
The Ministry of National Defence, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Health, and local governments must step up stringent management of foreign arrivals and strictly handle the illegal entries.
Earlier in the morning, Quảng Ninh’s authorities ordered the closure of all schools from kindergarten to universities at least until Sunday, pending further notice.
The province also set up barriers and checkpoints to control entry and exit from the province.
Many localities in the country – HCM City, Đà Nẵng City, Bắc Giang Province and Nghệ An Province – have also started to urge people to avoid large crowds and cut down on festivals, and practice safety measures. — VNS