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COVID-19 social distancing: Saigon seeks demotion from ‘high-risk’ to ‘at-risk’ city

Tuesday, April 21, 2020, 16:30 GMT+7
COVID-19 social distancing: Saigon seeks demotion from ‘high-risk’ to ‘at-risk’ city
Medical workers handle health declaration for COVID-19 prevention and control at the Saigon Railway Station in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City in this undated file photo. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

The Ho Chi Minh City administration has asked to be classified as an 'at-risk' locality, a demotion from its current 'high-risk' status, after the current phase of social distancing to curb the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic concludes on Wednesday.

Ho Chi Minh City vice-chairman Le Thanh Liem forwarded the proposal to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc after the municipal leader had reported on the situation of disease prevention in the city at an online briefing with the central government on Monday afternoon.

Ho Chi Minh City has added no new infection to its tally of 54 cases since April 3, said municipal health director Nguyen Tan Binh.

Among the cases, 52 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals while only two cases remain in treatment, including a British pilot.

Seventy-one people are still being placed under centralized quarantine in the city, while 197 others are self-isolating at home.

The city’s health authorities have tested 3,300 factory workers for COVID-19 infection, of whom 3,200 have had results come back negative for the new coronavirus and 100 are still waiting to know theirs, Binh said.

The city has yet to relax COVID-19 prevention and control measures and is strictly conforming to the government’s social distancing order, Liem affirmed.

Local authorities have completed reviewing companies with 3,000 employees and more and are running against the clock to finish risk evaluation at enterprises employing less than 3,000 workers before April 25, he added.

The municipal departments are also finalizing their own sets of indicators to assess the risk of coronavirus infection in each industry and expect them to be done by April 30.

As the government will have a meeting to further assess the epidemic’s development in each locality and make adjustments to the social distancing plan after April 22, the Ho Chi Minh City administration expects that the city’s COVID-19 risk level will be lowered from 'high rish' to 'at risk,' Liem said.

Currently, the southern metropolis, together with 11 other provinces and cities including Hanoi and Da Nang, is categorized as 'high-risk' localities by the National Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

All 12 'high-risk' localities and 16 'at-risk' ones are undergoing enhanced social distancing until at least April 22, after the first phase of nationwide social distancing had ended on April 15.

The first phase of nationwide social distancing in Vietnam lasted for 15 days from April 1.

During the intensive social distancing period, schools, stores, and entertainment venues are closed, gatherings of more than two people in public spaces are banned, and people are told to stay home except for trips outdoors for food, medications, and emergency care.

Traveling between provinces and cities are also restricted. Only a handful of flights and trains remain in operation between key destinations such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang.

Vietnam has confirmed 268 COVID-19 cases in total — a tally that has remained unchanged since Thursday last week — with 216 having recovered.

The country has yet to record a death from the disease.

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