Priests and Catholics attend the inauguration of the catechism house at Hiep Luc Church in Dong Nai province on Feb. 2. (Photo courtesy of giaophanxuanloc.net)
Authorities have closed schools across Vietnam to stem a newly detected Covid-19 variant that has spread to over 10 cities and provinces.
All nurseries, schools and colleges in 39 cities and provinces including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have been closed early this week to guarantee students’ safety ahead of the Tet festival holiday from Feb. 6-16.
Duong Anh Duc, vice-chairman of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, ordered the closure of all local schools on Feb. 1 to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The closure affected more than 1.7 million students.
Duc also asked schools to provide online courses during the holiday.
Education officials in the central province of Quang Binh asked teachers not to give homework to students during the holiday but to “create conditions for students to get together with their families, celebrate the Lunar New Year festival, entertain themselves and take good rests.” Local students take a holiday for Tet from Feb. 4-21.
On Feb. 3, Nguyen Dinh Khang, head of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, called on domestic migrant workers to limit their travels during the festival. In the past Vietnam saw great waves of internal migration of millions of workers returning home ahead of the Tet holiday.
Khang said tens of thousands of workers had decided to remain in southern provinces so as to contain the coronavirus. He appreciated their responsibility to the community.
Health authorities asked people to strictly obey five anti-coronavirus measures — wearing face masks, cleaning facilities, keeping proper distances from other people, avoiding gatherings and giving health declarations.
Some 75 children and 10 teachers were quarantined at their nursery school in Hai Duong province on Feb. 2 after a 4-year-old child was infected with Covid-19.
The province is Vietnam’s epicenter with 277 confirmed community infections since the first new cases were detected on Jan. 27.
Ten dioceses have issued detailed constructions on coronavirus prevention and called on Catholics to abide by health authorities’ measures to protect their families and communities. They also called off all planned ceremonies and pastoral activities.
Father Peter Nguyen Doai, chancellor of Ha Tinh Diocese, said Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop had canceled the diocese’s special year-end Mass scheduled for Feb. 4.
Father Doai asked local parishes to celebrate thanksgiving Masses at churches to pray for peace, the local Church and its benefactors in the new year.
On Feb. 4, Vietnam recorded 38 new community transmissions, mostly linked to the outbreak detected last week in the northern province of Hai Duong. The outbreak caused by the more contagious British variant of the coronavirus has spread to 10 cities and provinces, including capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The Southeast Asian country has reported 1,948 coronavirus cases in total with 35 deaths.