Hanoi, HCMC and ten other localities in Vietnam which are deemed to carry high Covid-19 infection risks would extend the social distancing campaign until April 22.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc made the decision at an online meeting with health officials and leaders of the country’s 63 cities and provinces Wednesday afternoon.
The list of high-risk localities may change, said Phuc. Another governmental meeting next week would decide if these localities’ social distancing would continue until April 22 or April 30, he added.
The 10 other localities set to extend the campaign by a week are Lao Cai, Quang Ninh, Bac Ninh, Ninh Binh Provinces in northern Vietnam; Da Nang, Quang Nam, Binh Thuan, Khanh Hoa, Ha Tinh in central Vietnam and Tay Ninh Province that neighbors Cambodia.
These localities are recommended to continue social distancing until at least April 22. After which, the Steering Committee for the Prevention and Control of Covid-19 would evaluate, report back their findings to the Prime Minister for him to decide.
However, the 12 aforementioned localities must not neglect production and construction of infrastructure, Phuc added.
As measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Phuc also requested relevant ministries to restrict immigration and domestic flights until April 20, as well as stopping visa issuance for foreigners either on land, at sea or by planes.
15 other localities are deemed as having risks of Covid-19 spread: Ha Nam, Hai Phong, Thai Nguyen, Nam Dinh, Lang Son in the north, Nghe An, Thua Thien-Hue in the central, and Binh Duong, Can Tho, Dong Nai, Kien Giang, Soc Trang, An Giang, Binh Phuoc and Dong Thap in the south. Unmentioned localities are deemed as low-risk.
Localities outside the 12 high-risk ones would not need to continue social distancing measures, said deputy health minister Nguyen Thanh Long.
However, they need to have specific regulations on business activities in accordance with current Covid-19 prevention policies, and must continue protective measures like refraining from leaving homes, wearing masks in public, not forming large gatherings, including gatherings for religious activities and keeping distances of at least two meters apart from each other.
Businesses that provide entertainment services and tourism sites would still not be allowed to resume operations.
A nationwide social distancing campaign in Vietnam came into effect on April 1 and was first ordered to last two weeks to stem the spread of Covid-19. The campaign called for people to stay home and doesn’t allow public gatherings of more than two.
People can only leave home for emergencies, buying food and medicine and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that make or distribute “essential” goods and services, according to the campaign initiated by Phuc.
Localities’ Covid-19 risk assessment depends on multiple factors, including traffic density, population density, density of companies and industrial complexes, whether they have busy border gates, and whether they have many locations frequented by foreigners. Assessment would also depend on whether local authorities would respond well when Covid-19 cases surface locally.
Last month, Hanoi and HCMC, the two largest cities and worst hit localities in Vietnam, have ordered non-essential businesses, such as bars, clubs or restaurants, to close temporarily as the number of Covid-19 cases continued to rise.
Vietnam has confirmed 267 Covid-19 cases so far, of which 96 are active.
Hanoi has 129 cases in total, of which 53 are active. Saigon has 54 cases in total, of which eight are active.
The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed over 126,800 lives as it hit 210 countries and territories.