HCMC gets ready to restart economy in May post-social-distancing

By Trung Son   April 21, 2020 | 10:30 pm PT
HCMC gets ready to restart economy in May post-social-distancing
Few activities are seen around HCMC's backpacker street Bui Vien, April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
HCMC authorities plan to allow businesses and schools to restart in May with six stringent disease control measures in place.

City Party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan spelled out the six mandatory measures.

The first was wearing of masks in public places like schools, markets and public transport vehicles, for three to six months, a year or even longer.

People coming from pandemic-hit countries must be tested as soon as they arrive in Vietnam by air, rail or road and isolated for 14 days if they show symptoms.

When someone is diagnosed with coronavirus infection, those who came into contact with them (F1) and also those who interacted with F1 must be isolated for at least 14 days.

The minimum distance between people in public and workplaces and the scale of public events must be regulated.

People must wash their hands regularly and disinfect their personal vehicles periodically.

The city must set up a city-level rapid response team, a team in each of the 24 districts and 322 others at lower levels to monitor public compliance with disease prevention measures.

Compliance will be checked at traditional and wholesale markets, and those not wearing masks will be fined and kept out.

The city authorities are required to detect new cases as soon as possible, especially cases that do not display epidemiological factors, and implement measures to control the epidemic to prevent community transmissions.

The city must also quarantine and treat infected people in a timely manner, try and limit the number of deaths and continue with large-scale quarantining when needed, Nhan added.

City Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong said the city has kept the epidemic under control and proposed to the government it should end the social distancing campaign on April 23.

For 19 straight days the city has not diagnosed anyone with Covid-19. Only two people are under treatment now while 46 are being monitored at isolation facilities and 190 others at home.

Nhan said the city needs to have a suitable roadmap and loosen restrictions on travel and people’s contact with others and reopen schools.

"Without a vaccine, the infection cannot be eradicated, but Covid-19 can be controlled like we do other infectious diseases."

Companies and businesses must set codes of conduct and operation regulations to prevent the spread of infection, he said.

"Each person, office and business must accept that a number of policies will be different from before. The city needs to complete setting up these new policies in April so that they can be deployed in May."

Phong said the city would gradually resume some essential activities that are less risky. Small businesses would be allowed to reopen first on a trial basis and then larger ones, and a decision would be made based on the trajectory of the disease, he said.

The city is creating a set of safety guidelines for schools, he said.

"This also involves the responsibility of parents, schools and students as well as local authorities."

The city will also deploy public security forces in 24 districts to ensure that people practice social distancing until the government declares the end of the epidemic and that criminal activities are kept in check. Surveillance cameras and hotlines will be used to spot and fine people not wearing a mask.

After the social distancing campaign is lifted and travel and trade activities resume, the city will enter the third stage of the epidemic, which is going to be more challenging than the previous ones, according to the HCMC Center for Disease Control.

In this stage, new cases could occur any time and sometimes the source and epidemiological factors will not be known.

Anyone entering the country could bring the infection considering the virus has spread globally.

Last Wednesday the PM extended the social distancing campaign for a week until April 22 in Hanoi, HCMC and 10 other localities deemed to be at "high risk" of Covid-19 spread.

The 10 other localities are Lao Cai, Quang Ninh, Bac Ninh, and Ninh Binh provinces in the north; Da Nang City and Quang Nam, Binh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, and Ha Tinh provinces in the central region and Tay Ninh Province in the south.

Vietnam has gone for six days now without a new infection. Of its total of 268 cases so far, 52 are active while all the remaining patients have been discharged from hospitals.

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