All passenger road transport services remain suspended until further notice in Ho Chi Minh City despite the relaxing of social distancing measures for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the municipal transport department said in a statement late on Wednesday.
The suspension, which has been in place in the southern metropolis since April 1, has been extended twice so far.
Specifically, inter-province coaches, buses, taxicabs, ride-hailing vehicles, and passenger cars continue to be prohibited in Ho Chi Minh City from 0:00 Thursday.
Exemptions are made for special-purpose vehicles; vehicles supplying food, foodstuffs, and raw materials; companies’ shuttle services; and ambulances.
Operators are required to disinfect their vehicles before picking up and after dropping off passengers and must not transport more passengers than half of a vehicle’s designed capacity.
Drivers and their assistants must adhere to rules concerning health declarations, hand washing, and face-mask wearing, which are intended to minimize risks of COVID-19 infection.
The department asked the municipal center for public transport to inform bus operators and locals of the extended ban.
Operators of inter-province bus terminals and road inspectors were told to work closely together with the aim of conducting inspections and penalizing violators.
In a related development, the municipal transport department also restricted the operations of ferries and passenger wharves, including those along Cat Lai Ferry, a key link between District 2 and the neighboring province of Dong Nai, and Binh Khanh Ferry in the outlying district of Can Gio.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Transport asked relevant agencies to forbid all four-wheeled commercial passenger vehicles for 15 days from April 1 to 15 to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The ban was extended for another week in Ho Chi Minh City on April 16.
Only one out of 54 COVID-19 patients in Ho Chi Minh City remained in hospital on Thursday afternoon.
The patient is a 43-year-old British man who works as a pilot for national carrier Vietnam Airlines.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Wednesday decided to ease social distancing measures in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, citing a slower infection rate of COVID-19 since early this month.
An enhanced social distancing policy was applicable in all of Vietnam from April 1 until the end of April 15, and prolonged in 28 localities — including Ho Chi Minh City — for another week until April 22.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Health reported no new COVID-19 infection on Thursday morning, marking a full week in which the country’s tally of coronavirus cases was kept unchanged at 268.
Without a single death, a total of 224 patients have recovered from the acute respiratory disease in the Southeast Asian country.