Vietnam PM gets tough on social distancing violations

By Viet Tuan   April 9, 2020 | 08:31 pm PT
Vietnam PM gets tough on social distancing violations
Two police officers stop a man to question his purpose of going out during the nationwide social distancing period on Dong Me Street, Nam Tu Liem District in Hanoi, April 5, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh.
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked law enforcement agencies to strictly discipline those violating social distancing rules and not wearing face masks.

He noted at a government meeting Thursday that Vietnam was not the only nation in the world deploying social distancing to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

As many as four billion people in 90 countries, or half of the world’s population, have been requested to stay at home to curb the virus, he said.

He also said Vietnam was one of the countries that have launched the social distancing earlier than others, adding: "The results we have achieved so far are quite encouraging but the threat still remains unchanged."

No one should neglect social distancing rules and let their guard down, Phuc said.

Vietnam launched a 15-day nationwide social distancing campaign on April 1, not allowing gatherings of more than two people and asking people to stay home, only going out when truly necessary.

The PM, however, also told local authorities while they have to strictly clamp down on public gathering, they should also ensure the availability of essential goods and the flow of commerce needed for it. Earlier, some localities had mistaken the government’s social distancing rules for a national lockdown and strictly prevented all traffic between communes and districts by putting up barriers.

Apart from warning people gathering in groups in public places, including those doing exercises, in several places, police have fined people found going out for "non-essential" purposes. The typical fine in such cases is VND200,000 ($8.58). In some cases, those ignoring the rule to organize public gatherings have been fined up to VND12 million ($510).

The public has been informed that those not wearing face masks in public places can be fined VND100,000-300,000.

HCMC has thus far fined almost 2,500 people for not wearing face masks in public places. City officials said Thursday that they have collected nearly VND500 million ($21,260) in fines.

Vietnam had recorded 255 Covid-19 infections as of Friday morning, more than half of whom (128) have been discharged from hospitals.

The Health Ministry said Wednesday that the Covid-19 pandemic has entered the third stage in Vietnam, defined as the community transmission stage, when more than a few locals have got infected without immediate identification of the source of transmission.

The first stage, which began late January, saw the nation record 16 cases by mid-February, with many cases linked to Wuhan in China, where the novel coronavirus broke out. Then the country went 22 days in a row without any new cases before the second stage began March 6, with a wave of infected people returning from abroad, particularly Europe.

To deal with the community transmission, more drastic social distancing is needed to curb infection, track down the source and locate the stricken areas for isolation, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Truong Son has said.

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