The chairman of a commune in the north-central Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh has been suspended after he was pictured gathering with a group of people for gambling amid novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) social distancing.
Pham Dai Dung, chairman of Huong Lam Commune in Huong Khe District, Ha Tinh, and at least five other men were captured sitting in a circle on a mat with betting money and playing cards placed in front of them, in a photo submitted to the Huong Khe District administration.
Each of the gamblers reportedly bet VND50,000 (US$2.12) for each round of game in the beginning, before increasing the betting amount to millions of Vietnamese dong per round. (VND1 million = $42.56)
Noticeably, it is reported that the gambling took placed at a local resident’s house early this month, after Dung had just finished a shift on COVID-19 prevention and control.
None of the gamblers were wearing a face mask in the photo, and were sitting elbow-to-elbow.
Huong Khe chairman Le Ngoc Huan on Monday evening temporarily suspended Dung and asked for verification of the case.
Meanwhile, Ha Tinh’s Party Committee Secretary Le Dinh Son has also tasked the local police with investigating the case for strict handling.
Vietnam completed the first 15 days of nationwide social distancing on April 15.
Ha Tinh — a 'high-risk' province according to classification by the National Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control — is among 28 provinces and cities asked to continue upholding social distancing measures until at least the end of April 22.
During the social distancing period, gatherings of more than two people in public spaces are banned and non-essential travels are restricted.
People are told to stay home, wear face masks whenever outdoors, and keep a two-meter distance in social interaction.