Nineteen southern localities, including Ho Chi Minh City, have continued applying enhanced social distancing measures for two more weeks under a prime minister decision as an effort to contain the surging COVID-19 cases.
In addition to Ho Chi Minh City, the other localities enforcing the extension include Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Tien Giang, Long An, Ben Tre, Can Tho, Vinh Long, Dong Thap, Hau Giang, Bac Lieu, An Giang, Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, Kien Giang, and Ca Mau, according to a decision issued by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Saturday.
The extended period is counted from the end of 14-day extensive social distancing that was stipulated under an urgent dispatch issued by the prime minister on July 17.
Accordingly, these cities and provinces are required to maintain social distancing measures under Directive No. 16 and to forbid interprovincial travels from Sunday forward, except for those authorized by the government, until the social distancing extension ends.
Leaders of the provinces and cities will be held accountable to the prime minister if they let people move out of their localities.
For people who have left their province or city before the decision was issued, local authorities have to help them reach their destinations safely.
Desigated authorities are required to set up effective treatment and care systems for COVID-19 patients, especially those in severe conditions, to minimize fatality rates, the decision said.
The PM also requested all local administrations to strictly comply with epidemic prevention and control rules under the directive, take measures to contain the coronavirus spread, and provide appropriate support and aid for virus-affected areas.
Directive No. 16 includes the closure of non-essential businesses and services, a stay-home order, a ban on gatherings larger than two people, a minimum two-meter distance between people, and the suspension of public transport.
Residents are completely prohibited from going out, except for seeking medical treatment and buying food at designated points.
The prime minister ordered local authorities to immediately provide enough food and healthcare for all the poor as well as people who lose income due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 vaccination must be organized quickly, safely and effectively, and any violations related to the inoculation must be punished strictly and promptly, the PM underlined in the decision.
Among the 19 localities, Ho Chi Minh City and its neighbor Dong Nai Province began their two-week social distancing on July 9. Both later extended their restrictions until Sunday amid soaring coronavirus infections.
Binh Duong has applied social distancing to certain areas since late last month, while Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, and the Mekong Delta region commenced their two-week period on July 19.
Besides the restrictions under Directive No. 16, many of the cities and provinces, including Ho Chi Minh City, have added night travel bans, whereby people are prohibited from going outdoors from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am the next day, except for emergencies.
Since the pandemic hit Vietnam in early 2020, the country has recorded 150,060 COVID-19 patients, including 147,819 domestic and 2,241 imported cases, the Ministry of Health reported on Sunday morning.
About 38,700 people have recovered and 1,306 others died.
As many as 146.249 domestic infections have been detected since April 27, when the pandemic's fourth wave erupted in the Southeast Asian country.
During this wave, Ho Chi Minh City has become the largest epicenter, with nearly 92,200 cases recorded by Sunday, according to the municipal Center for Disease Control.
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