Ho Chi Minh City authorities on Monday ordered schools to close down from Tuesday to prevent COVID-19 transmission when Vietnam is battling a new wave of local infections.
Students from kindergarten to high school levels, including those enrolled at vocational and continuing education facilities, in the city will stay home and switch to virtual learning until the end of Friday, the municipal People’s Committee said in an urgent dispatch on Monday afternoon.
They will start the Lunar New Year holiday on Saturday and return to school on February 17, according to a previously announced schedule.
Ho Chi Minh City has over 1.7 million students studying at K-12 levels and vocational and continuing education facilities, along with 100,000 teachers and other staff.
Many provinces and cities have also allowed school students to begin their Lunar New Year holiday early for fear of COVID-19 spread.
Vietnam has confirmed 240 local cases, including infections among students, since it announced a new outbreak on January 28.
One hundred and eighty-eight patients were documented in Hai Duong, 25 in Quang Ninh, 15 in Hanoi, four in Gia Lai, three in Bac Ninh, two in Hoa Binh, and one each in Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, and Hai Phong.
The country had gone almost two months without any community transmission before the discovery of the new wave.
The majority of the domestically-transmitted cases were traced back to Hai Duong and Quang Ninh.
Health officials have conducted aggressive contact tracing as well as targeted testing and lockdowns since the new wave blindsided the country.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, who is chief of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, said last week that Vietnam will suppress this outbreak within this week given such stringent measures.
Vietnam has confirmed 1,819 coronavirus cases, including 933 domestic infections, as of Monday morning, with 1,457 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
It recorded 84 local transmissions on Thursday, 62 on Friday, 61 on Saturday, and 31 on Sunday.
The health ministry will give an update on case counts at 6:00 pm on Monday.