Ho Chi Minh City, which is bearing the brunt of Vietnam’s fourth and worst COVID-19 outbreak, will be under stricter mobility and social distancing measures starting August 23. City authorities have already started mobilizing military and police to help in the prevention and control of the pandemic.
Photos of military trucks on the streets have circulated on Facebook and Twitter since yesterday, causing fear and panic among the city’s 12 million residents. However, on Saturday, the city’s steering committee for COVID-19 prevention and control, affirmed that the city will be placed under “lockdown” in the next two weeks, and that the arrival of military and security forces in the country’s largest city does not indicate a state of emergency.
Deputy head Pham Duc Hai told local media that recent actions by the government is “not new because it has been done before”, and does not imply “something wrong.”
HCMC is also preparing for the arrival of more medical forces, civil servants and volunteers from other provinces to help in the southern region’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Medical equipment will also be brought to HCMC, where they are badly needed.
Pham Duc Hai further explained that added restrictions are necessary as social distancing regulations were not followed in the last few weeks, which have resulted in more infections in the community.
The mobilized personnel will also be assisting in the distribution of food and essential goods to residents, depending on the zones they’re in.
People in green and yellow zones will be allowed to go out to supermarkets and grocery stores once a week.
In the orange and red zones - considered high-risk areas - military forces and volunteers will help with food shopping, the payment of which will be made by the residents.
Check which zone your area belongs to here.
Poverty-stricken residents will be given food aid by the government in the next two weeks. Many local charities and volunteer groups will also help in the packaging and distribution of relief packs.
Leaders in each ward will act as contact points for food demand. City residents can also call 1022 and press 2 for food support.
Authorities also said that the military personnel will boost medical capabilities in the city, ensuring sufficient supply of oxygen tanks, medical equipment and health workers, as well as help facilitate COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
Delivery service suspended in several districts
The operation of app-based delivery services will be suspended in Thu Duc City, Districts 8 and 12, Go Vap, Binh Tan, Binh Thanh, Binh Chanh and Hoc Mon starting Monday. The suspension will be in place until September 6.
Delivery services in other districts in HCMC will continue to be operational. But drivers will be restricted to one district only.
Saturday’s patient tally reaches new peak
As mass testing in communities continues, more COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. On Saturday, Vietnam hit another record number of daily cases, with 13,417 new infections.
The three localities recording the highest number of cases were the southern industrial hub Binh Duong with 6,623 cases (including 2,118 cases detected in previous days but just recorded today), HCMC with 4,084 cases and Tien Giang with 589 cases.
This is the second time Binh Duong’s cases surpassed that of HCMC’s. Yesterday, Binh Duong recorded 4,223 cases; HCMC confirmed 3,375 infections.
Of the new cases reported on Saturday, 7,248 or more than half of the total cases were detected in the community.
Total patient tally during the current outbreak has now reached 332,627.
The number of COVID-related fatalities is now at 7,540, while recoveries stand at 140,087.
Hanoi extends social distancing
Hanoi is extending its strict social distancing order until September 6 as the coronavirus threat continues to persist in the capital city. Hanoi started to put its residents under Directive 16 on July 24.
People are mandated to stay at home, and are only allowed to go out for essential reasons, such as buying food and other basic necessities.
The city is also ramping up its COVID-19 testing in communities to detect and isolate cases.