|Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam speaks at an online conference on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the HCM City Press Centre|
HCM CITY — Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam has ordered HCM City authorities to tighten COVID-19 prevention measures, work with neigbouring provinces to ensure goods circulation, and provide timely support to thousands of residents affected by the outbreak.
Speaking at an online conference on Tuesday, Đam, head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, said: “The country’s largest pandemic hotspot must enhance measures while maintaining production and business at the highest possible level.”
The city must also work with neighbouring provinces to control the movement of workers who travel back and forth to work in industrial parks and business establishments.
Currently, people who want to enter other provinces for whatever reason need a paper to confirm that they tested negative no more than three days before their entry.
HCM City has 28 health facilities authorised by the Ministry of Health to perform COVID tests.
“The pandemic situation has become worse as the country’s largest economic hub has continued to record more than 1,000 locally transmitted cases a day for the past few days, spreading to other provinces,” Đam said.
To curb the spread caused by the highly contagious Delta variant, the city has shut down three wholesale markets, disrupting the goods supply chain, affecting millions of people in the city.
Many people’s lives and incomes have been affected, especially the poor.
The city has continued to detect cases via screening tests at health facilities, including workers and traders at wholesale markets.
Đam ordered the city to also continue focusing on tracing infection chains in workers’ rented accommodations near markets.
Businesses that fail to comply with prevention measures will have to suspend operation, according to Đam. “Nearly 800 cases have been recorded in 38 enterprises across the city since the outbreak began in late April.”
Besides rapid testing, the city is carrying out up to 200,000 PCR tests a day. It will continue to conduct routine screening tests in high-risk areas, and take samples of some members of families who are at high risk of infection.
Dương Anh Đức, vice chairman of People’s Committee, said the city’s concentrated isolation areas were almost full.
City districts are considering using resettlement houses, large land plots and factories to set up field hospitals for isolation purposes and for COVID treatment for people with mild symptoms.
Food supply ensured
Many online food apps have reported they are out of stock or overloaded due to a large number of people using the apps.
After all three wholesale markets were closed in the city, people rushed to supermarkets and convenience stores to buy food.
Representatives of supermarkets said they were working hard to ensure the supply of goods to consumers.
They said the number of online purchases had increased by two to 10 times compared to before, and by three times at supermarkets. Some items are out of stock due to overcrowding.
Nguyễn Nguyên Phương, deputy director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said the city would strengthen the supply capacity of traditional markets, supermarkets and convenience stores.
“People should not be too worried as the supply of goods is ensured,” he said.
As of Wednesday morning, 125 out of 234 traditional markets in the city had been temporarily closed due to positive COVID cases, including three large farm-produce wholesale markets.
Bùi Tá Hoàng Vũ, director of the Department of Industry and Trade, said the department would provide address information of safe markets, supermarkets, commercial centres and convenience stores in city districts.
Traders at wholesale markets would be trained to use e-commerce applications to buy and sell online, he said.
In another matter, the city has established two more temporary hospitals for COVID treatment to handle the surge in infections. The hospitals will be in two resettlement apartment buildings in District 12 and Thủ Đức city.
With 2,000 beds, the hospital in district 12 began to admit patients on July 5, while the 3,000-bed hospital in Thủ Đức city is scheduled to open on Thursday (July 8), according to the Department of Health.
The department also plans to turn another resettlement site in Bình Chánh District into a COVID-19 hospital with about 3,000-5,000 beds, raising the total number of beds for patients in the city to 15,000.
Nguyễn Văn Nên, secretary of the city Party Committee, said the city has prepared funds for prolonged social distancing. It has committed a minimum support level of VNĐ50,000 per person per day for 230,000 poor households in lockdown areas.
HCM City had recorded more than 8,000 cases as of Wednesday afternoon. It continues to apply citywide social distancing under Directive No 10 until further notice. — VNS