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Vietnam launches lockdown to fight Covid-19

PM seals borders and orders citizens to only leave home to buy food and medicine or for essential work

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

Published: March 31, 2020 10:03 AM GMT

Updated: March 31, 2020 10:10 AM GMT

Vietnam launches lockdown to fight Covid-19

Health workers wearing protective clothing take a blood sample from a resident at a makeshift rapid coronavirus testing centre near Bach Mai Hospital in Vietnam's capital Hanoi on March 31. (Photo: Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

Vietnam’s prime minister has introduced tough measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in the Southeast Asian nation.

Nguyen Xuan Phuc has demanded social distancing, working from home and the suspension of public transport.

He said the pandemic seriously threatens human health and life and economic and social development. “The people’s health and life come first,” he said.

He demanded social distancing to be followed by families, villages, districts and provinces in the 15 days starting April 1.

A lot of people are seen on streets and beaches and in some places people still do not strictly follow the requirement to not gather in crowds. Phuc said such behavior is creating a high risk of infection.

The head of the communist government ordered all citizens to stay at home and only go out to buy food and medicine or work at factories that are permitted to remain open. They must strictly keep themselves at least two meters away from others and are not allowed to gather with more than two people in public places. They must wear face masks and clean their places with antiseptics.

The prime minister will also temporarily seal Vietnam’s borders with Laos and Cambodia from April 1.

He said government agencies should arrange for staff to work via telecommunications at home. The country has cut domestic flights and suspended non-essential services, halting public transport and minimizing the use of personal vehicles.

On March 30, Phuc asked Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to stand ready for city lockdowns as the country has entered the pandemic’s peak period.

He came to this decision after Vietnam’s health ministry reported 15 new Covid-19 cases on March 30, raising the number of confirmed cases to 204. Of the total, 188 cases were found from March 6-30.

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The ministry said 3,215 other suspected people are quarantined in hospitals and over 75,000 others are being monitored at homes. No deaths have yet been reported.

Vietnam’s 27 Catholic dioceses suspended daily Masses and liturgical services at churches and chapels from last weekend. They urged Catholics to pray privately at churches and home, do charitable work and observe Masses livestreamed through websites and social media.

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