Vietnam to ease social distancing campaign gradually

By Viet Tuan   April 20, 2020 | 06:26 pm PT
Vietnam to ease social distancing campaign gradually
Streets in front of Saigon's iconic Ben Thanh market are empty during Vietnam's social distancing campaign, April 6, 2020. Photo by VnExpress.
The Prime Minister said Monday Vietnam will ease social distancing step by step and implement adequate controls to avoid underestimating the Covid-19 epidemic.

People should remain vigilant because the disease can break out again, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a government meeting on the Covid-19 fight.

Localities must continue to follow the social distancing campaign which began on April 1 until a new directive is announced, scheduled on April 22, he said.

The 15-day nationwide social distancing campaign launched April 1 was extended for a week in Hanoi, HCMC, and 10 other localities deemed to be at high risk of Covid-19 spread. The 10 other localities are Lao Cai, Quang Ninh, Bac Ninh, and Ninh Binh  in the north; Da Nang and Quang Nam, Binh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, and Ha Tinh in the central region and Tay Ninh in the south.

Fifteen other localities categorized in a lower risk group that also have to participate in the campaign are Binh Duong, Can Tho, Dong Nai, Ha Nam, Hai Phong, Kien Giang, Thai Nguyen, Nam Dinh, Nghe An, Thua Thien Hue, Soc Trang, Lang Son, An Giang, Binh Phuoc and Dong Thap.  

Authorities in the remaining 36 localities in the low-risk group have been given the autonomy to create their own terms of social distancing.

Depending on the situation, many localities will be identified at lower risk if more safety is guaranteed, Phuc said.

He tasked all municipal/provincial chairpersons to identify specific risk levels in districts, communes, villages and residential areas and tailor measures accordingly.

Phuc noted that transmission risks were still high, so he urged authorities at all levels and all citizens to remain focused on the main principles in the Covid-19 fight  - identifying, quarantining, zoning and stamping out outbreaks; and providing effective treatment to patients.

He said the implementation of the social distancing campaign was an important measure in the fight.

On another important issue, the PM said he will consider amending rules on face mask exports if there are enough reserves in the country.

The Foreign Trade Agency said in a recent release that Vietnam has the potential to become a major global mask exporter. It can make at least 200 million masks a month, and some producers have been able to make their own raw materials to reduce dependence on imports, it said.

The PM has also tasked deputy ministers of health, foreign affairs, transportation, and defense to work together to bring overseas Vietnamese home.

Vietnam has entered its fifth straight day without a new infection. Of 268 confirmed cases, 215 have been discharged from the hospital.

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