|Small traders at Bình Điền wholesale market in HCM City on July 5. The market closed temporarily on Tuesday after positive COVID-19 cases were detected through mass testing. Photo sggp.org.vn
HCM CITY — The Bình Điền wholesale market in HCM City’s District 8 was closed at 8am on Tuesday until further notice after the city’s largest wholesale market recorded at least 39 locally transmitted cases through mass COVID-19 testing.
Speaking at an unannounced inspection at the market on Tuesday, Nguyễn Văn Nên, secretary of the city Party Committee, said: “We have no choice but to suspend the largest wholesale market to curb the spread. More cases are expected in the coming days as more people will be tested.”
“The situation remains complex,” said Nên, adding that market management must work with local health forces to speed up the tracing of F1 cases (close contacts of COVID patients) and F2 cases (close contacts of F1).
“Delay in the tracing process causes huge challenges in stopping the spread.”
“If there is a shortage of medical staff, the management must report to the city so the city can arrange the personnel,” Nên added.
Nên urged District 8 authorities to focus on tracing, zoning and rapid testing to ensure safety so that the market could reopen as soon as possible.
The Department of Industry and Trade must learn a lesson from Bình Điền wholesale market and ensure COVID prevention measures are being followed at city markets.
Phan Thành Tân, director of Bình Điền market management company, said the market had established a steering committee for Covid-19 prevention and control, which was working with the local health sector to develop a pandemic prevention plan, requiring medical declarations and body temperature checks for everyone entering the market.
The management is using advanced technology such as monitoring equipment, facial recognition and automatic temperature measurement devices that operate remotely via a camera system.
As many as 8,000 small traders and workers at the market were vaccinated during the city’s fourth round of the vaccine scheme, according to Tân.
Trần Thanh Tùng, chairman of District 8 People’s Committee, said the district had been working with the Department of Industry and Trade to inspect pandemic prevention and control.
Bùi Tá Hoàng Vũ, director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said the market was ordered to stop receiving goods and release all existing goods at the market.
The department is working with retailers to buy goods to reduce cost damages to small businesses and ensure consumers’ needs.
Small traders have been urged to sell goods online or by phone to maintain customers, according to Vũ.
The Bình Điền farm produce wholesale market has a total of 1,880 shops with total daily trade volume of 2,200 - 3,000 tonnes and total sales of VNĐ4-4.5 trillion a month, according to the department.
The market imports goods from 37 provinces and cities to be transported to 19 provinces and cities nationwide.
About 5,000 cars, cargo trucks and 2,000 three-wheelers enter the market every day.
The market has about 20,000 people working every night, posing a risk of infection. During the social distancing period, only 9,000 to 12,000 people have been working there.
HCM City, the largest pandemic hotspot in the country with more than 7,100 cases as of Tuesday afternoon, continues to apply citywide social distancing under Directive No 10 until further notice.— VNS