Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam speaks at an online meeting with the Government’s Special Working Group and representatives from six southern provinces on Thursday about the COVID-19 situation in the south. Photo courtesy of the HCM City Press Centre
HCM CITY — Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam has urged southern provinces to work with HCM City to enforce strict COVID-19 prevention measures and be ready to aid the city in the fight against the virus.
Đam, head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, said it was important to prevent the spread of the virus between HCM City and neighbouring provinces while ensuring circulation of goods in the region.
He spoke on Thursday at an online meeting with the Government’s Special Working Group and representatives from six southern provinces (An Giang, Kiên Giang, Hậu Giang, Cà Mau, Bạc Liêu and Sóc Trăng).
Đam stressed the role of organisations such as community COVID-19 groups that “go to every corner and every house, and check every person” to ensure that they have made health declarations.
“Those who fail to complete medical declarations or provide dishonest declarations must be strictly handled, including their family members,” he said.
Provincial authorities would be held responsible for failing to control people arriving from HCM City or other provinces, and for people who don't submit health declarations.
Đam also called for stricter prevention measures in locked-down areas to ensure that all residents of all ages practise social distancing to prevent cross-infection in the areas.
HCM City late Friday afternoon announced that the city would extend the social distancing measures under the Government’s Directive 16 until August 1, but would apply even stricter measures in certain high-risk wards or districts in the city.
Nguyễn Trường Sơn, deputy minister of Health, said the COVID-19 situation in the southern provinces was still under control with tracing, zoning and testing activities being carried out in accordance with the Health Ministry’s instructions.
He urged the provinces to increase the number of RT-PCR tests in high-risk areas so that COVID-19 exposure sites could be cleared in the community. To speed up testing and discover positive cases more quickly, pooled samples from five to 10 people should be taken.
Sơn said the ministry would ensure supply of medical equipment and biological products for testing.
“Provinces need to set up a centralised oxygen system to ensure enough oxygen and high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC), and enhance training for medical staff to be ready for the increasing number of infections, and to limit the number of deaths,” he said.
The primary COVID-19 treatment facilities in the provinces need to monitor and evaluate the condition of patients regularly and transfer patients with serious symptoms as soon as possible to higher-level hospitals.
Lê Quốc Hùng, deputy minister of Public Security, urged the provinces to work with police forces to strengthen tracing of all F1 cases (close contacts of infected patients) to reduce the risk of community infections.
Trần Thanh Nam, deputy minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: “Provinces need to set up working groups to connect with businesses to remove difficulties in selling farmers' agricultural products.”
Đỗ Thắng Hải, deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, noted that traditional markets under Directive 16 could remain open, but they must meet strict prevention measures.
The six southern provinces were asked to be fully prepared to support HCM City, the epicentre of the latest outbreak, and other provinces, as directed by the Ministry of Health.
Facilities that treat severe and critical COVID cases must be equipped with medical oxygen supply systems, medical devices and medicines to prevent development of more serious symptoms and reduce the risk of death.
Smooth transport of goods
Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam stressed that only trucks with essential goods were allowed to move during the lockdown period under Directive 16.
Đam asked the provinces to provide favourable conditions for truck drivers to get tested and ensure smooth movement between localities.
Local authorities were asked to strictly oversee businesses that transport goods and conduct quick tests or RT-PCR tests for truck drivers and their helpers.
In 19 southern cities and provinces under Directive 16, trucks are required to carry logos and QR codes that allow access to their medical declarations before they are permitted to enter or leave hotspot areas.
In the manufacturing sector, local authorities have been told to strengthen preventive measures at industrial parks. Businesses and manufacturers must strictly comply with COVID-19 prevention and control criteria and manage workers’ movement from their workplaces to their accommodations to limit their number of contacts.— VNS