An empty street in the coastal city of Nha Trang on April 1 when Vietnam started its coronavirus lockdown. (Photo: UCA News)
Vietnam has extended its anti-coronavirus measures for one week in cities and provinces with high risks while lifting restrictions in other places.
On April 15, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc decided to grant an extension of the 15-day social distancing and stay-home order until April 22 or April 30 in Hanoi, Danang, Ho Chi Minh City and nine provinces considered to have high risks of the Covid-19 pandemic. The nationwide order expired on April 15.
People in those areas are asked to stay home and only go out to buy food, medicine and other essential items. They have to wear masks when leaving houses, keep themselves at least two meters away from others and not have gatherings of more than two people in public places.
“This is a difficult decision as there are opinions to call for the lifting of the measures to restore economic activities, but there are also opinions supporting the extension of the social distancing measures,” Prime Minister Phuc said at a meeting in Hanoi.
He urged local officials to keep the spirit of “fighting the pandemic like enemies” to protect people’s lives and health. They should take proper actions to gradually bring society back to normal life.
The PM also relaxed some measures in 15 risky cities and provinces and 36 low-risk provinces, where inessential services and public transport are allowed to reopen. Wearing masks and banning mass gatherings are still applied.
Vietnam’s 64 cities and provinces are divided into three groups — high-risk, risky and low-risk.
The National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and Control demanded schools, religious sites, entertainment places and public transport remain closed. Lottery ticket sellers are banned.
The committee reported that the country found only 59 new coronavirus cases during the first half of this month, accounting for 40 percent of cases confirmed in the previous two weeks.
Maria Pham Thuy Tinh, who closed her small restaurant in Yen Bai late March, said local authorities have not allowed her to reopen the restaurant even though the province is considered low-risk.
“We mainly depend on the restaurant. The government should revive economic activities soon so that people like us can survive the deadly pandemic,” the 48-year-old mother of two said.
She said her family has only two meals with rice and vegetables per day.
Therese Pham Thi Ngoc Linh, who works for Hong Ha Elementary School in Ho Chi Minh City, said she and her husband have to sell fish, meat and vegetables on the internet and deliver them to customers’ homes for a living. They lost their jobs in February when the coronavirus outbreak spread.
“We attend daily Masses livestreamed through the internet and pray to God to save the world by ending the coronavirus disease soon,” Linh said.
On April 8, the Planning and Investment Ministry estimated that 3.5 million workers had lost their jobs and 19 percent of businesses had suspended or reduced their activities due to the pandemic.
As of April 16, the Southeast Asian country had reported 268 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which 171 had recovered. The latest case is a 16-year-old Hmong ethnic girl from the mountainous province of Ha Giang bordering China. Her three brothers worked in China.
Authorities in capital Hanoi, where there are 112 Covid-19 patients, have quarantined 11,000 people in Ha Loi village in Me Linh district for 28 days since April 8. The village has 12 cases.