Each bus can carry 40-80 passengers and have been in position since Friday afternoon.
The move came after thousands of people tried to leave Ho Chi Minh City for their hometowns in the Mekong Delta since Thursday night as the city started to remove street barriers and checkpoints to prepare for reopening, and at the same time, many Mekong Delta localities announced to relax Covid-19 restrictions.
Most of them said they have lost jobs and are now out of money after staying four months under strict social distancing measures in HCMC, the epicenter of Vietnam’s latest Covid-19 wave. Now going back home is their only solution because they could at least be free from the rent.
However, as the Covid-19 pandemic has just started to get under control in HCMC, the authorities have yet to allow anyone to leave the city unsupervised, worrying if it can pose risks for other localities where the vaccination rate is still low.
For that reason, all migrants were stopped at checkpoints at the city's gateways, resulting in traffic jams and chaos, especially at the Bui Thanh Thiet-National Highway 1 intersection in Binh Chanh District.
Thousands of people in HCMC carrying their belongings and children took to the National Highway 1 to return to their hometown on September 30, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
To cope with the situation, the HCMC Transport Department had on Friday sent 60 buses to the intersection and by Friday evening, more than 8,000 have been taken home in eight Mekong Delta provinces of Soc Trang, Kien Giang, An Giang, Bac Lieu, Vinh Long, Ca Mau, Tra Vinh and Tien Giang.
For now, 113 buses have been deployed as migrants working in HCMC's neighboring provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Long An also have the demand to return home.
All returnees must test negative via the rapid testing methods.
Once reaching their hometown, they will be sent to quarantine camps for 14 days. Those having certificates proving they have been vaccinated with at least one shot for over two weeks or have recovered from Covid-19 within six months will be quarantined seven days.
At a meeting Wednesday with the central government, authorities of Central Highlands and southern localities, including the Mekong Delta, had agreed that in the meantime, migrants cannot return home from HCMC and its neighbors Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An without supervision.
They said their medical capacities are limited and therefore it is not safe if people return en mass from Covid-19 hit areas.
Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An are the second, third, and fourth hardest hit localities in the wave, after HCMC. All four are major industrial hubs that employ a large number of workers from across the country.
Of the returnees since Thursday night, Mekong Delta's Dong Thap Province has already reported four that tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The fourth wave hit Vietnam late April and 793,150 infections had been recorded nationwide as of Thursday, including 392,329 in HCMC, 212,843 in Binh Duong, 49,330 in Dong Nai and 32,502 in Long An.
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