HCMC set to miss Covid control deadline, needs more time

By Trung Son   September 11, 2021 | 11:00 pm PT
HCMC will need more time to control the current outbreak since controlling it by September 15 is unlikely, says municipal Party Secretary Nguyen Van Nen.

Speaking at a conference on plans and strategies to prevent and control the pandemic and boosting economic recovery after September 15, Nen said only some areas in HCMC have brought the Covid-19 pandemic under control in accordance with criteria issued by the Ministry of Health.

Based on the global situation and the contagious Delta variant, it is difficult to pursue the Covid-zero strategy within a specific period of time in HCMC, he said.

It is unlikely that the city can put the pandemic under control by the September 15 deadline given by the central government, Nen said, adding that only a few districts can do so. The city will have to ask for a deadline extension, perhaps by late September, to do the job, he said, asking the municipal Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control to discuss the issue to ask the government.

A GrabBike driver passes the deserted Ho Chi Minh City Hall, or the HCMC Peoples Committee headquarters, on Le Thanh Ton Street in District 1, August 2021. Photo by Vi Yen

A driver passes the deserted Ho Chi Minh City Hall, or the HCMC People's Committee headquarters, on Le Thanh Ton Street in District 1, August 2021. Photo by Vi Yen

The southern metro has undergone 103 days of lockdown at various levels, but these measures cannot be extended for too long because they have adversely affected residents and the economy, Nen said.

"The extent of the social distancing measures and relaxation depends on the development of the pandemic situation, and local risks. The motto of HCMC is safety first," he said, adding that safety must also be ensured in production.

Referring to the role of HCMC in the Southern Key Economic Zone and the country, Nen said that the city's plans cannot be separated but must be closely coordinated with the situation of the region and the country. The plans should be deployed step by step, cautiously and firmly.

He said the city will gradually relax its Covid restrictions in low-risk areas and pilot plans locally before implementing them citywide.

HCMC will gradually restore "the new normal" in each field, the municipal party leader said. Healthcare will be a key pillar of the reopening process, as the city must strengthen its preventive capabilities and strengthen the healthcare system in districts. At the same time, the city needs to have mechanisms and policies to involve private healthcare providers and also recruit traditional medicine specialists to participate in the fight against the coronavirus.

Nen also mentioned strategies for the fields of education and training, communication, culture, security and defense.

Notably, he mentioned support and care from the community, domestic and foreign businesses for those in need.

"They do charitable work, but they are required to show papers and face trouble. (The city) must help philanthropists travel easily, conveniently, without any troubles," he said, calling for a mechanism to gather and promote resources from society in the Covid fight.

Since the central government had said it wanted HCMC to get the coronavirus situation under control by September 15, the city has been focused on this goal, imposing social distancing measures, speeding up testing and detection as well as vaccination, trying to reduce the fatality rate and ensuring social security.

HCMC is the epicenter of the fourth Covid-19 wave to hit the country, recording more than 291,000 cases and 11,660 deaths since late April.

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