HCMC to extend social distancing until September 15

By Huu Cong   August 12, 2021 | 11:02 pm PT
HCMC to extend social distancing until September 15
Aerial view of a desolate HCMC street amid a Covid-19 social distancing order. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
HCMC plans to continue it's social distancing status until at least September 15 in response to sustained coronavirus threats, the municipal Party Committee said Friday.

Phan Van Mai, deputy secretary of the municipal Standing Party Committee, said the southern city is expected to announce its upcoming plans to fight the coronavirus in the next two days.

As the numbers of cases and even Covid-19 deaths are still high, Ho Chi Minh City would still need to contain infection sources and prevent mild coronavirus cases from turning severe to avoid deaths, he said.

"This Sunday, the city will officially announce a specific plan to fight the coronavirus. The general spirit is to continue social distancing in accordance with Directive 16," Mai said, adding that the city would try to screen Covid-19 cases and perform risk assessments throughout the city until August 30.

Directive 16 requires people to stay home and only go out for basic necessities like buying food or medicines or to work at factories or businesses allowed to operate.

People must keep a distance of at least two meters. No more than two people can gather together in public apart from work, schools or hospitals. The majority of public transportation will be shut down and there will be no travel between localities.

Citing the coronavirus situations in other locations around the world like the U.S. and India, where outbreaks persist even four or rive months after the peak has been reached, Mai warned that the coronavirus situation in Ho Chi Minh City can last a long time, and social distancing measures would last until September 15 or further.

Duong Anh Duc, deputy chairman of the municipal People's Committee, said Ho Chi Minh City has recorded 3,687 new Covid-19 cases per day on average for seven days starting August 5. Around 80 percent of them were detected within quarantine zones and locked down areas, he added.

"The most pressing issue for the city is its high Covid-19 death rate with 241 deaths a day on average recently," he said.

With support from the Ministry of Health, Ho Chi Minh City has deployed new ICUs, new hospital beds and other measures to enhance its Covid-19 treatment capabilities, Duc said.

"The situation is still progressing complicatedly, and maybe for a prolonged period as the virus has embedded itself in the community. While the number of new infections have been decreasing or plateauing lately, that isn't sustainable, and death rates are still high," he said, adding that the number of new daily cases after August 15, when the current social distancing period is supposed to end, would still be over 3,000.

As the government has set a goal for Ho Chi Minh City to put the coronavirus under control by September 15, the city would also devise a new battle plan until that date.

Social distancing measures still need to be maintained, especially within locked down areas, where most current coronavirus cases are found.

"We must reduce the number of new Covid-19 cases in these areas. To do that, houses must be socially distanced from other houses," Duc said, adding that it was sad to see entire families being infected with the coronavirus.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's economic powerhouse, has become the epicenter of the fourth coronavirus wave which struck the nation in late April. It has recorded 137,008 local cases so far, the highest in the country. The southern metropolis has gone through multiple consecutive social distancing orders, with the latest one expected to be extended for a month starting August 15.

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