Hanoi may extend social distancing beyond September 6: CDC

By Tat Dinh, Viet Tuan   August 31, 2021 | 10:46 pm PT
Hanoi may extend social distancing beyond September 6: CDC
Health workers collect samples for Covid-19 testing in Hanoi's Thanh Xuan District, August 27, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Hanoi may extend its current social distancing order beyond its intended Sept. 6 deadline amid persistent coronavirus threats, the municipal CDC said Wednesday.

Khong Minh Tuan, deputy director of the Hanoi Center for Disease Control (CDC), said the most worrying fact is that several coronavirus cases are being detected through community screening and that they often failed to medically declare themselves early, complicating contact tracing.

"With the current coronavirus situation, Hanoi is very likely to extend its social distancing order beyond Sept. 6," he said, adding it's merely a prediction and not a final decision. Municipal authorities are still weighing options, he confirmed.

Tuan said the city needs to diligently abide by coronavirus control measures, especially since many "loopholes" remain. For example, a coronavirus patient was found to have gone to the market every day with her daughter.

In the coming days, more cases with no obvious infection sources would be found in the community, with clusters possibly popping up within the supply chain, markets, neighborhoods and apartment blocks, according to the Hanoi Department of Health.

Tran Dac Phu, senior advisor at the Public Health Emergency Operations Center, said the coronavirus situation in the capital remains under control. But the city is still a high-risk area and the situation could change at any time. New clusters being detected serves as evidence the coronavirus was still lurking within the community.

Clusters could spiral out of control very quickly, especially in areas with high population density, he stressed.

"Within a short time, such areas could record hundreds of cases," Phu added.

In the meantime, Hanoi should focus on contact tracing and isolating coronavirus cases from the community to extinguish outbreaks as quickly as possible. For social distancing orders to end, both the number of cases and infection risks need to be accounted for, he said.

The capital could relax social distancing measures from area to area, instead of all at once, Phu said, adding that vaccination should be ramped up too, especially for elderly people and those with underlying health conditions.

Hanoi has recorded 3,513 local Covid-19 cases since the fourth coronavirus wave hit Vietnam in late April. Several past cases were contained within quarantine zones and locked down areas.

The capital has undergone several social distancing orders since late July, with the latest expected to end on Sept. 6. But outbreaks have been more unpredictable than earlier, with new clusters still being detected, showing gaps in the city's coronavirus control measures, Dinh Tien Dung, secretary of the municipal Party Committee, said Sunday.

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