Vietnam ends lockdown for coronavirus commune

By Phuong Lam   March 3, 2020 | 11:00 pm PT
Vietnam ends lockdown for coronavirus commune
Police remove barriers that has separated Son Loi Commune in Vinh Phuc Province in northern Vietnam from the outside world during a 20-day lockdown, March 3, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
The lockdown of Son Loi Commune in Vinh Phuc Province to contain the coronavirus was lifted on Tuesday night.

The commune in Binh Xuyen District has not recorded any new cases of Covid-19 in the last 20 days, and so the lockdown has ceased, Bui Hong Do, chief of the province People's Committee office, announced.

Son Loi had become the Covid-19 epicenter in Vietnam with seven confirmed cases, prompting authorities to completely isolate the 10,600 people living in its six villages from February 13.

A 50-year-old man in the commune was diagnosed with the disease on that day, the 16th and last case detected in Vietnam thus far. He had contracted it from his 23-year-old daughter, who had returned from China’s Wuhan City in January.

He was discharged from hospital on February 26.

Following the lockdown, 12 disease control checkpoints were set up around the commune and manned round the clock to check everyone going in or out.

Son Loi authorities also had the area disinfected, informed residents about the new coronavirus and the disease it causes and prevented food, animals, plants, and other things potentially capable of spreading the virus from leaving the commune.

Now, with the quarantine ending, they are wary and advising locals to restrict traveling and crowded places to prevent the disease from returning.

Vinh Phuc recorded 11 cases in all, nine of them in Binh Xuyen District, all traced to a group of eight workers at a Japanese-owned company sent to Wuhan City in China where the first ever new coronavirus was detected in January.

Locals’ response

People attend an event to lift the lockdown in Son Loi Commune, Vinh Phuc Province, northern Vietnam, late on March 4, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

People attend an event to lift the lockdown in Son Loi Commune, Vinh Phuc Province, northern Vietnam, late on March 3, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

Do Thi Tuyet took her two children to the office of the Son Loi People’s Committee to attend an event held on Tuesday night to formally announce the end of the lockdown.

Hundreds of people had gathered by 9 p.m., two hours before the event started.

"It is so exciting, feels just like Tet," she said, referring to the Lunar New Year holiday, the biggest festival in Vietnam.

For dinner that evening her family of six had two hotpots to celebrate the "victory" in the battle against the coronavirus.

Tuyet said she was scared at first when the commune was locked down and did not feel comfortable, but later, when she followed the news regularly, she realized it had been necessary.

"Now we can breathe a sigh of relief."

Deputy Minister of Health Do Xuan Tuyen, speaking at the event, was realistic: "This is the first success, but we cannot be complacent."

He said the epidemic could spread far and wide across the community, and authorities now have to widen their monitoring to the entire community rather than just focus on a certain area.

"Vinh Phuc’s experience in filtering, classifying and treating infected patients within the province should be used in other places to avoid overburdening central-level hospitals."

All of Vietnam’s 16 novel coronavirus infections have recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

The government has announced that everyone coming from South Korea, Iran, Italy, and mainland China will be quarantined for 14 days on arrival.

In the case of arrivals from other countries, people from stricken areas are quarantined while the rest have to follow a health declaration protocol.

The global death toll has reached 3,202, mostly in mainland China, followed by Italy (79), Iran (77) and South Korea (32). The U.S. has reported nine deaths and Japan 12, including six on a cruise ship.

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