Vietnam urges people to stay at home, bans gatherings of more than two

By Viet Tuan   March 30, 2020 | 09:41 pm PT
Vietnam urges people to stay at home, bans gatherings of more than two
A Hanoi street is disinfected. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Vietnam starts a nationwide social distancing campaign Wednesday, not allowing gatherings of more than two people, asking people not to leave their homes.

The campaign would last 15 days, under a directive issued Tuesday by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. It calls for people in the same families, villages, communes, districts and cities to stay put where they are.

Factories must maintain safe distances, disinfect premises and employees must wear masks to prevent infection.

People should only leave home for emergencies, buying food and medicine, and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that involve trade in "essential" goods and services.

People must maintain a distance of at least two meters from each other, and no gathering of more than two would be allowed in public, except for in offices, schools and hospitals, where the government imposed a 20-person limit earlier.

People must inform authorities of their health status and undertake measures to protect their families' and their own health. Business leaders will be responsible for deploying disease prevention measures at their businesses and keeping their employees healthy.

Ministries and local authorities must expend all resources at their disposal to contain the Covid-19 virus in outbreak areas, such as Hanoi's Bach Mai Hospital which has been associated with 33 infections and Saigon's Buddha Bar & Grill with 13 other cases.

Not lockdown

Mai Tien Dung, Chairman of the Government Office, said Phuc's directive is not a lockdown order and the government still manages to contain the epidemic.

Dung said the directive only serves as a guidance and more specific orders for different scenarios will follow.

"If the situation gets worse and the disease spreads widely in the community, we will need stricter rules. And we will do that step by step," Dung said.

Vietnam has recorded 204 Covid-19 cases so far, of whom 55 have recovered and been discharged. Many of the 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.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected 200 countries and territories, killing more than 37,800 people.

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