|People at a vaccination site in HCM City. More than 95 per cent of adults aged 18 and above in the city have received at least one vaccine dose and 33 per cent aged 18 and over are fully vaccinated. Photo courtesy of the Department of Health|
HCM CITY — The travel movement of people from the four COVID epicentres of HCM City and Long An, Đồng Nai and Bình Dương provinces must remain strictly controlled after September 30 in order to prevent the spread of virus to provinces where vaccination rates remain low, leaders of southern and Central Highlands' provinces have said.
At a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam on Tuesday, the leaders of these provinces said the plan to reopen the economy in the city and three surrounding provinces could pose a risk of spreading the virus to other provinces such as theirs.
Lê Quốc Hùng, Deputy Minister of Public Security, said that around 3.5 million people from other provinces and cities nationwide, mostly in the Central Highlands and Mekong Delta regions, work in HCM City and Long An, Bình Dương and Đồng Nai provinces.
Of the number, 2.1 million want to return to their hometown after September 30 when the four COVID hotspots are expected to loosen social distancing restrictions.
“However, this is very risky due to the low vaccination rates in other provinces,” he said.
In August when HCM City extended the lockdown period, hundreds of thousands of people rushed to return to their hometowns, spreading the virus to provinces.
Hùng said the PM should direct the epicentres to encourage people to “continue to stay where they are” to prevent the spread. The city and the three provinces should ensure jobs, accommodations, welfare and vaccines to help them stay in city and the three provinces.
Businesses should also be encouraged to welcome people to return to work in HCM City and Bình Dương, Long An and Đồng Nai provinces.
The ministry recommended that the Government organise trips for the elderly, pregnant women, children and other vulnerable people to return to their hometowns safely if they want to go back. People should not travel on their own, Hùng said.
The Ministry of Health has prioritised most of the vaccines to the hotspots of HCM City and Long An, Bình Dương and Đồng Nai provinces.
From September 30, people in the city and three provinces will be allowed to travel only within their city or provinces, but not to other provinces.
Experts said the Government should continue to prioritise vaccines for HCM City, Long An, Bình Dương and Đồng Nai provinces and neighbouring provinces.
When the vaccination rate of other provinces increases, which is expected in the next month or so, then travel restrictions might be lifted.
The special working group has also asked the Prime Minister soon to issue a specific directive on travel movement in the city and the three provinces.
Lê Hòa Bình, Vice Chairman of the city People’s Committee, said the city had organised 143 trips for 36,000 people to return to their hometowns in provinces across the country.
After September 30, the city will give priority to reopening businesses and production establishments in industrial zones, processing and exporting zones, and high tech zones, which will need workers. The city will arrange jobs and vaccinations for them to help them stay in the city.
The city is drafting a plan to welcome workers from other provinces to return to the city for work, including criteria to ensure pandemic prevention safety for drivers, companions and workers.
The city is compiling its directive on relaxing social distancing measures which will begin on October 1.
The city will maintain 12 checkpoints at its gateways and 39 other checkpoints at entrances to other localities.
HCM City has imposed various levels of lockdown measures since late May. On August 23, the city imposed the toughest measures, ordering people to “stay where they are” except for emergencies.
The city has recorded nearly 380,000 cases since late April when the fourth wave began. About 15,000 people have died of the virus in the city. — VNS
COVID situation has improved in HCM City
According to the city Department of Health, the city has seen the pandemic peak and the city’s number of COVID-related deaths continues to drop, with the number of discharged patients exceeding the number of hospitalised patients.
Seven districts in the city have basically contained the outbreak: Củ Chi, Cần Giờ, Nhà Bè, District 7, Gò Vấp, Phú Nhuận, and Thủ Đức city.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Phạm Đức Hải, deputy dead of the city Steering Committee for Disease Prevention and Control, said HCM City had 2,674 patients hospitalised and 3,131 patients discharged on Monday (September 27), the second day in a row when the number of hospitalised was lower than the number of discharged.
The number of patients on ventilators has decreased since September 6 and is currently 1,793 cases. As many as 22 patients are undergoing ECMO intervention in the city.
The number of deaths has also decreased over the past two weeks, dropping to 131 on Sept 27 compared to 340 on Aug 22.
9.7 million doses administered
Speaking at the press conference, Nguyễn Hồng Tâm, deputy director of HCM City Cenre of Disease Control, said, as of September 27, the city had administered more than 9.7 million doses, of which the total number of first doses was 6,824,718 and the second doses nearly 1.5 million.
The number of vaccinated people aged 65 and over and people with underlying conditions has reached more than 1.1 million.
It has administered 100 per cent of the first doses for people over 50 years old (with the second doses reaching 48.5 per cent).
More than 95 per cent of adults aged 18 and above have received at least one vaccine dose and 33 per cent are fully vaccinated in the city.
In addition, the HCM City Welfare Centre has provided more than 2 million support packages to support people in difficulty because of the pandemic.
It plans to provide an additional two million packages in coming time, according to city authorities.