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Vietnam to declare Covid-19 a national epidemic

By Viet Tuan   March 30, 2020 | 06:10 am PT
Vietnam to declare Covid-19 a national epidemic
The Vietnamese Army's chemical division disinfected Bach Mai Hospital after many Covid-19 infections were linked to it, March 28, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
The Prime Minister has agreed a Health Ministry proposal on declaring the Covid-19 outbreak 'a national epidemic', asking people nationwide to stay home, heavily restricting their outside movements.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc also said at a Monday afternoon meeting that the government is yet to consider lockdowns for Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City "like what many countries have done in their big cities."

He said now was "a decisive time in Vietnam’s fight against Covid-19," so all government and local authorities must stay focused on the goal to stamp out the virus and disease.

Phuc called on everyone to "stay at home and work online", except for special cases or visits to hospitals, stores, supermarkets, and manufacturing facilities. He also requested concerned agencies to "basically suspend" public transportation.

"We cannot be neglectful. We have rolled out many strong measures but on the streets, on the beaches, there are still many people and in some places the policy of not gathering more than 20 people is not strictly implemented," he said, adding that social distancing was a must at this time.

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

Phuc stressed that all resources should be mobilized to wipe out the virus at hotspots like the Buddha Bar & Grill in HCMC, Hanoi's Bach Mai Hospital and the Truong Sinh Company, which provides food and logistic services to the hospital.

The PM said at the meeting that he agreed that the Bach Mai Hospital can continue receiving patients in need of emergency treatment while ensuring safety for medical workers and patients.

In a statement released by the Party Central Commitee Office Monday afternoon, Party Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong said that "the country has entered a time when the risk of community infection is increasingly bigger."

He called for unity and readiness to deal with worst scenarios.

Vietnam has so far confirmed 203 infections, 55 of whom have recovered and been discharged.

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.

There have been at least 13 cases linked to the Buddha Bar & Grill in District 2's Thao Dien Ward and 33 cases linked to the Bach Mai Hospital and Truong Sinh Company. The hospital, one of Vietnam's largest, has been locked down since Saturday morning.

The government had decided Sunday to suspend all international passenger flights to Vietnam and limit flights between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other localities in the coming two weeks.

Starting March 22, Vietnam also suspended entry for all foreign nationals, including those of Vietnamese origin and family members with visa waivers and halted all international flights from March 25.

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 34,000 people in 199 countries and territories

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