PM orders suspension of gatherings over 20 people to halt COVID-19 spread

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At a cabinet meeting on COVID-19 prevention and control in Hanoi on March 26, the PM asked authorities at all levels to suspend all meetings and events with more than 20 people, as well as strictly stopping religious rituals, starting from 0:00 on March 28 , a move which may last for a few weeks.

Amidst the complex developments of the disease with more cases of community and hospital infections, PM Phuc urged administrations at all levels to act faster and take stronger measures to detect infections early, put suspected cases in quarantine in a timely fashion and localise outbreaks for effective treatment.

Protection of people’s health is the highest goal, he stressed. “As forecast, we have two weeks to take action. The virus will spread faster than our actions if we do not act quick and drastically enough,” the PM said.

In the next two weeks, he demanded a full suspension of all public religious services and closure of non-essential services, such as bars, karaoke clubs, massage parlours, cinemas, restaurants, beer clubs, entertainment centres and tourist spots, except for those selling food, essential goods and medicine.

Operation of public transport must be halted or limited, while flights connecting the two major cities – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – and other localities should be reduced, the leader said.

The Government leader urged people to stay indoors and only go out for essentials. He also ordered a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people outside of offices, schools and hospitals.

Those orders will be effective from 0:00 on March 28 with no end date specified and will be once again considered in detail later.

The PM also asked the health sector to immediately purchase necessary medical equipment and coordinate with other units for the production of medical and other standard masks to fully meet domestic needs and international cooperation. The Ministries of Defence and Health should discuss the construction of a number of field hospitals when necessary. Provinces and cities need to focus on investing in machines and equipment to conduct testing for the disease on a large scale, particularly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

On Thursday morning (March 26), almost all Hanoi shops have closed or suspended their services to prevent COVID-19. (Photo: NDO)

* On the same day, Chairman of the Hanoi Municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung led a mission to inspect the prevention and control of COVID-19 in the Cau Giay and Tay Ho districts.

Regarding the complicated situation of the epidemic, Chung requested the two districts continue to further improve communications work so that local people are aware of the risk of the epidemic. The local authorities must mobilise the participation of both the political system and the community in epidemic prevention and control, aiming to ensure people’s safety, he said.

He also urged for better monitoring of people under medical isolation in the community, while reviewing those coming from epidemic-hit areas by road. The two districts also need to review their medical equipment and organise training for health workers on disinfection procedures and taking medical samples, as well as continuing to spray disinfectants at local schools.

Hanoi City People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung (standing) inspects the prevention and control of COVID-19 in Tay Ho district, March 26, 2020. (Photo: NDO/Viet Anh)

The chairman also noted that the two districts should have solutions to facilitate businesses to resume operations in the post-epidemic period, while ensuring social security.

He added that, through a review of Vietnamese citizens and foreigners who came to Vietnam from March 7 to 0:00 on March 25, 3,042 people had entered Hanoi through Noi Bai Airport. Of these, 2,128 have been tested, of which 993 cases have received results and four positive cases for SARS-CoV-2 have been found.

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