Strict social distancing rules as a response to COVID-19 outbreaks do not need to be implemented on a national scale at the moment, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Sunday.
During a teleconference on COVID-19 prevention and control, PM Phuc commended authorities in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi for allowing businesses and production to go on while only shutting down certain non-essential services and entertainment venues.
Hanoi recently ordered all bars, karaoke parlors, and roadside stalls to close, while Ho Chi Minh City had shuttered local bars and discos to curb the epidemic.
The premier praised the two cities for taking drastic actions to limit the spread of the disease, including mass testing and tracing suspected infections using information technology.
The top priority is to achieve the dual goal of controlling the epidemic while maintaining economic growth, Phuc stressed.
Enhanced social distancing rules should be applied only in areas where the epidemic is serious and not on a national scale, the head of government remarked, calling for careful consideration before any decision on imposing such measures.
“Each citizen is a soldier [and] each family is a fortress in the fight against the pandemic,” he said.
The prime minister vowed to promptly deal with border jumpers and individuals who do not comply with quarantine regulations, as well as those who spread false information on COVID-19.
Regarding the situation in Da Nang, the country’s current outbreak epicenter, PM Phuc praised the health sector for taking multiple measures to control the epidemic, as well as sending experts and health workers from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to assist the central city.
As of Sunday afternoon, Da Nang had recorded 121 COVID-19 patients, of whom five had passed away, the city’s chairman Huynh Duc Tho said at the meeting.
The establishment of a makeshift hospital for COVID-19 treatment is being expedited at Tien Son Sports Arena in the coastal city while authorities are planning to form a second makeshift infirmary.
Da Nang has banned crowded events, shuttered non-essential services, stopped receiving domestic tourists, and reinstated other social distancing measures from July 28.
More than 400 visitors, most of whom come from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, are still stranded in the central city, according to chairman Tho.
The prime minister agreed to provide vehicles to transport these tourists home. They will be quarantined if necessary.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 tally has reached 621, with 373 having recovered and six fatalities as of Monday afternoon.
A total of 174 locally-transmitted cases have been traced to Da Nang since July 25, after 99 days of no documented community transmission of the virus in the Southeast Asian nation.
The new community-based cases have been logged in Da Nang, Quang Nam Province, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Quang Ngai Province, Thai Binh Province, Dak Lak Province, Dong Nai Province, and Ha Nam Province.