A street food stall in HCM City offers takeaway only. — VNS Photo Gia Lộc
HCM CITY — HCM City will carry out social distancing for two weeks beginning on Monday (May 31) under Government's Directive No.15.
Non-essential services will be shut, and so will entertainment, cultural and sports activities in public. Gatherings of more than five people in public will be banned (Directive 15 allows gatherings of up to 10 people in public, but HCM City's authorities went a step further), and events and meetings with more than 20 people in one room will not be permitted.
People must keep a 2-metre distance from others in public, and transportation from COVID-19 hit areas must be limited.
Meanwhile, the Directive No.16 will be applied to Gò Vấp District and District 12's Thạnh Lộc Wards, where several COVID cases have been detected, according to which people at those areas must stay at home unless for justified reasons.
Directive No.16 also requires people to keep a distance of at least 2 metres from others. Gatherings of more than two people in public are banned. Production factories must ensure a safe distance between workers and disinfect their working space. Workers must wear masks.
The social distancing period will officially start on May 31, the city People’s Committee Chairman Nguyễn Thành Phong said during an online meeting on Sunday.
Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hòa Bình approved Phong's decision and instructed the city to speed up tracing of potential infections in the community, especially cases related to the swelling COVID-19 outbreak related to the Revival Ekklesia Mission Christian sect in Gò Vấp District, detected on May 27.
Bình said that factories should continue production and comply with regulations about COVID-19 prevention and control.
Phong has also halted the 10th grade entrance examinations until further notice.
He instructed students at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy and Phạm Ngọc Thạch University of Medicine to help take samples for COVID testing in the community.
The city aims to increase the capacity to 50,000 samples per day. More than 280,000 workers and 3,000 experts at industrial parks and export processing zones will be tested.
Nguyễn Tấn Bỉnh, head of the Department of Health, said that the city had recorded 13 incidences per one million people.
Gò Vấp District police on Saturday decided to commence criminal proceedings against the Christian Revival Ekklesia Mission in the city on a charge of "spreading dangerous infectious diseases".
The authorities said the mission did not fully observe COVID-19 prevention and control measures, which resulted in an outbreak involving many people.
The mission, which has a license to operate, has a registered membership of 48 people, but the HCM City Centre for Disease Control (HCDC) said that the actual number of participants might be more and has called on other members to come forward and report to the authorities so that testing and contact tracing can be done to avoid virus transmission.
City health officials have noted that the Revival Ekklesia congregation usually takes part in ceremonies in small enclosed spaces without wearing masks. And with the faster-spreading Indian coronavirus variant involved in the outbreak associated with this group, the number of cases has increased fairly quickly.
HCM City health officials take samples for COVID testing from people living in Gò Vấp District. — VNA/VNS Photo
HCM City on Sunday morning said 33 more people were suspected to have contracted COVID-19 in the community, increasing the total to 177 cases, according to the HCDC. The official confirmation of results will come later from the Ministry of Health.
The 33 patients are related to the outbreak at the Revival Ekklesia Mission. New incidences in the provinces of Long An, Bạc Liêu and Tây Ninh are also related to the Revival Ekklesia Mission.
The HCDC forecasts that the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to increase because the members of the Revival Ekklesia Mission have not declared their health status.
The city has asked people who have any connection with the Revival Ekklesia Mission to declare their health status because the risk of transmission is very high.
The city continues to evaluate the transmission risk by taking samples from people living in Gò Vấp District wards 3, 5, 9, and 15.
According to HCDC, the virus could be present in the community, so people in the city should pay attention to preventive measures. They should comply with the city regulations in COVID-19 prevention and control and cooperate with health officials that require isolation, lockdowns, or samples for testing.
The public must be honest in their health declarations. If they have a fever, cough or loss of taste or smell, they should visit a hospital. They should wear masks and go to the hospital on their personal vehicle.
HCM City People’s Committee chairman Nguyễn Thành Phong said that two people working in two large industrial parks in Tân Bình and Củ Chi Northwest have tested positive.
Several members of the Revival Ekklesia Mission Christian sect are thought to be working in companies at the city’s industrial parks, which could pose further transmission risk.
HCM City People’s Committee Chairman Nguyễn Thành Phong checks COVID-19 prevention and control measures at industrial parks. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vũ
Bus routes suspended
HCM City has suspended bus routes, including route No. 50 University of Technology in District 10 to Vietnam National University-HCM City in Thủ Đức city, route No. 52 from Bến Thành Market in District 1 to International University in Thủ Đức city, route No. 86 from Bến Thành Market to Tôn Đức Thắng University in District 7 and Long Kiểng Bridge in Nhà Bè District, and route No.140 from Sài Gòn bus station in District 1 to Phạm Thế Hiển Street and Phú Lợi Residential Area in District 8.
Buses on route No.123 from Phú Mỹ Hưng residential area in District 7 to District 1 will not operate on Saturday and Sunday until June 30.
Bus transport of passengers to HCM City will be suspended from the neighbouring provinces of Tiền Giang, Long An, Bạc Liêu Bình Thuận, and Lâm Đồng.
Buses from Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province to the city are not allowed to transport more than 50 per cent of their capacity, and the number of passengers must be fewer than 20.
Tây Ninh Province's Department of Transport is working with the Department of Health, and police have set up checkpoints at gateways to check vehicles from HCM City.
Bình Dương Province is also controlling vehicles coming from other provinces and the city.
Lâm Đồng Province has set up more checkpoints for COVID-19 prevention and control in the districts of Cát Tiên, Bảo Lâm, Di Linh, Đơn Dương, Lạc Dương, and Đam Rông, besides the existing ones at its gateways with Đồng Nai and Bình Thuận provinces.
Bình Thuận Province has medical inspection teams at bus stations and ports, and agencies check and supervise buses that drop off and pick up passengers.
Boats from Phan Thiết city to Phú Quý island have suspended transport of passengers from other provinces and cities to the island. VNS
The Long An Province Department of Health said that an F2 (indirect contact) of COVID-19 patient in HCM City tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 although the F1 of the HCM City patient had tested negative. The F2 patient was brought to Cần Giuộc District General Hospital for treatment.
The province's Steering Committee for COVID-19 prevention and control locked down and disinfected 15 households with 35 people in residential quarter No. 7 in Cần Đước town where the woman lives.