VĨNH PHÚC — The lockdown placed on Sơn Lôi, a rural commune in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc that stands at the centre of the COVID-19 outbreak in Việt Nam, was officially lifted at midnight on March 4.
The announcement was made by local authorities late yesterday, marking the end of the 22-day lockdown aiming at containing the outbreak from spreading further in the community.
The lockdown effectively restricted all incoming or outgoing travel from the commune with a population of 10,000 since February 13, as the locality has not recorded any new cases infected with the emergent strain of the coronavirus.
Out of the 16 positive cases recorded since the outbreak made its appearance in Việt Nam on January 22, Vĩnh Phúc Province had 11 – Sơn Lôi Commune alone reported 7 cases – all due to a group of Vietnamese workers returning from a training trip to China’s Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, on January 17.
All of them have been successfully treated and released from hospital, however.
A woman buys food at a market in Sơn Lôi Commune, Bình Xuyên District, Vĩnh Phúc on March 3, one day ahead of the lifting of the lockdown on the 'epicentre' of COVID-19 in Việt Nam with seven cases. — VNA/VNS Photo
All barriers and surveillance stations surrounding the commune would also be removed, together with public security and military forces and medical workers that monitored the situation.
During the lockdown, people entering or exiting the commune required express permits from the local authorities. Large gatherings were also categorically forbidden, but Vietnam News Agency reported that most activities of the locals remained little disturbed, with groceries and essential goods still fully available.
Each person in Sơn Lôi Commune was eligible to an allowance of VNĐ40,000 (US$1.73) a day for the entire lockdown period if they were under house quarantine, or VNĐ60,000 a day if they were under quarantine at local medical stations.
Bình Xuyên District would still dispatch groups of doctors and medical workers to keep abreast of the situation and deal with recurrence if needed, in light of the new developments of the outbreak globally, a provincial official said during yesterday's announcement ceremony.
Information campaigns will be stepped up to communicate to the public on proper prevention measures like practising respiratory and hand hygiene, the official said.
The lockdown was in place for one week longer than the recommended 14-day quarantine by health authorities.
The last COVID-19 patient was released from the Quang Hà clinic in Bình Xuyên District on February 26 in good condition.
Đỗ Xuân Tuyên, deputy health minister, congratulated the successful results and appreciated the efforts of Sơn Lôi Commune, Bình Xuyên District and the entire Vĩnh Phúc province.
Deputy health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long said on Tuesday during a separate meeting with the press that in dealing with contagious diseases, quarantining is of utmost importance and four-layer quarantine in Sơn Lôi Commune has proved its effectiveness.
According to Long the military currently can arrange more than 60 quarantine sites in the country, which can accommodate more than 30,000 people.
Screenings will be increased to filter out those with minimal risks – for example, ones not having travelled to virus-hit regions can be placed under self-quarantine at their homes – to alleviate the pressure on the military-run concentrated quarantine sites.
Viet Nam has not recorded any new cases of the virus since February 13.— VNS
A woman pushing her two grandchildren in An Lão village of Lôi Sơn Commune. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hùng