HCMC suspends public bus services until mid-April in Covid-19 fight

By Nguyen Quy   March 31, 2020 | 06:39 am PT
HCMC suspends public bus services until mid-April in Covid-19 fight
A public bus conductor looks out as her vehicle is stuck in traffic in HCMC, September 2, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
HCMC has suspended all public bus services starting Wednesday as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The suspension, in force until April 15, aims to restrict travel in the city of 13 million people.

The decision followed Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc agreeing Monday with a Health Ministry proposal on declaring the Covid-19 outbreak 'a national epidemic', asking people nationwide to stay home and heavily restrict their outside movements.

"People should stay in their own province, their own district and their home for at least 15 days," Phuc said.

HCMC operates public buses on 132 routes and there are 251,000 passengers every day on average, many of them students and low-income earners.

City authorities had suspended all passenger buses that travel to other provinces for two weeks, starting last Friday.

Hanoi has also cut 12,400 public bus runs per day, or 80 percent of the daily average, starting last Friday. The cut affects all routes across the city.

As the number of Covid-19 cases in Vietnam rises every day, the Vietnamese government has banned crowds of more than 20 people and ordered localities to close "non-essential" shops including massage parlors, karaoke bars, beauty salons, beer shops, restaurants and eateries, tourist sites, entertainment venues and movie theaters until April 15.

As of Tuesday morning, the country’s Covid-19 infection tally was 207, of whom 58 have been discharged from hospitals.

Of HCMC’s 49 cases, 12 have been released from hospitals.

Many of the currently active cases are Vietnamese nationals returning from Europe and the U.S., foreigners coming from the same regions and those who’d come into contact with both groups of people.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected 201 countries and territories to date, killing more than 39,500 people.

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