|Sparse traffic on Quang Trung Street, Gò Vấp District, HCM City, on the first day of social distancing. — VNA/VNS Photo An Hiếu
HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính on Wednesday issued an urgent dispatch on COVID-19 measures in the wake of the worsening outbreak in HCM City and other southern localities.
He noted that recently, following the direction of the Politburo, the Secretariat, the Government, the Prime Minister and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, localities across the country made great and resolute efforts to gradually put COVID-19 outbreaks nationwide under control, however, the outbreak remains complicated in HCM City and has spread quite quickly to a number of other localities in the southern region.
PM asked all localities and ministries to strictly implement solutions to prevent, detect, isolate, suppress outbreak and provide active treatment; pay special attention to the implementation of regulations on social distancing and lockdowns, and the supply of food and necessities for people in quarantined/locked down areas.
The health ministry is asked to frequently update its public list of officially determined “outbreak areas” on its website.
While the whole of HCM City is not yet considered an outbreak area, all travellers from zones in the city must declare their health status to the destination’s local authorities and are subject to quarantine, testing or medical monitoring depending on the epidemiological investigation’s results.
Regarding the situation in HCM City, the dispatch ordered the municipal People’s Committee to “step up leadership in drastic, determined and comprehensive measures” to cut off chains of virus transmission and contain local outbreaks.
The authorities must not let mass gatherings and crowding continue, in which social distancing is not respected, especially in high-risks areas.
The city is also told to “immediately complete necessary steps (legal and communication) to limit people’s movements to the highest extent” and coordinate with neighbouring localities to manage industrial zones’ and factory workers who live in one place and work in another.
HCM City must also strictly control the exit and entry of vehicles to better manage the sources of infections, but in a way that is not disruptive to transportation of goods and conducive to maintenance of business and production activities at the highest level amid the pandemic.
In tandem with prevention and control measures, the southern city must also carry out measures to ensure people’s livelihoods and lives, especially in terms of support for the poor, people in difficult situations, freelance workers, and workers who have no savings or suffered income losses, etc. so that “no people would starve because of the pandemic.”
As of noon on Wednesday, HCM City has recorded over 8,000 cases of COVID-19 since late April, and has consistently led the national tally with hundreds of new patients in recent days with many patients of unknown sources of infection or detected through screening. It is currently the largest hot spot in the country’s fourth wave of infections, despite being put under heightened social distancing since May 31, with non-essential businesses – and most recently, many traditional markets where COVID-19 clusters have been detected – forced to shut down, and limits placed on gatherings in public and indoors.
People have been advised not to go outside unless necessary under the current order, however, the highest level of restrictions ever been enforced in the country include a ban on going outside unless for necessary purposes or emergency cases and halt of public transport and travels between localities enforced in the nationwide lockdown earlier last year.
Also on Wednesday, the health ministry issued a notice to all local health departments, requiring all arrivals from HCM City to self-isolate at home/accommodation facilities for seven days (starting from the date of arrival), avoid contact with others and refrain from taking part in large gatherings, and self-monitor their health status for the next seven days.
Health workers are supposed to conduct COVID-19 testing on these arrivals three times on the first, third, and sixth day of the self-isolation period. — VNS