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Shuttered schools in Ho Chi Minh City reopen after new COVID-19 outbreak suppressed

Friday, December 18, 2020, 15:17 GMT+7
Shuttered schools in Ho Chi Minh City reopen after new COVID-19 outbreak suppressed
Students wears masks and maintain distance in a class at Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HUTECH). Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

School facilities implicated as ‘high risk’ during a brief re-emergence of COVID-19 in Ho Chi Minh City in early December are back in operation after two weeks of closures.  

In late November and early this month, Ho Chi Minh City confirmed four new cases of COVID-19 community transmission, which broke Vietnam's streak of 88 days without a single infection in the community. 

Contact tracing on the four cases, labelled Patient 1,342, 1,347, 1,348 and 1,349, found hundreds of people at risk after contacting the infected, which in turn led to the shutdown of several schools to negate further threats of transmission. 

Thanks to the relentless measures taken by local authorities, Ho Chi Minh City has gone 15 days since it last recorded a COVID-19 infection, which allows schools come out of the brief shutdown.

According to Nguyen Thi Hong Chuong, principal of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai High School in District 3, 48 of the school’s students were promptly quarantined after coming into contact with patient 1,347, an English teacher, at the school.

They were initially slated to return on Monday, but authorities agreed they could return six days earlier as there appeared to be zero likelihood of an infection.

The quarantined students will start their final exams on December 21, two days later than the rest of the school.

Classes are also back in session at Tran Quang Khai High School in District 11, following a two-week closure which began on December 4 when administrators asked the school’s 2,000 students to stay home following information that a 10th grader had been in contact with a COVID-19 patient.

A school representative has reported that students at Tran Quang Khai High School will begin entering their final exam period next week.

Four elementary schools in District 6, including Vo Van Tan, Nguyen Hue, Le Van Tam, and Binh Tien, plus 157 sixth-graders from Hong Bang Secondary School in District 5 were also allowed to return to school this week.

Operations at each of the affect schools have returned to normal following a short closure to ensure safety during the latest COVID-19 scare, according to Luu Hong Uyen, head of the Education and Training Department in District 6.

Ho Chi Minh City’s University of Finance – Marketing (UFM), is still closed due to the scare, but has plans to reopen on December 21.

“Lecturers and students are prepared for more lessons, up to a maximum of five per day, plus make-up shifts of their choice, to ensure we can stick to our education and exam schedule in late 2020,” said Dr. Hoang Duc Long, the president of UFM.

Nguyen Tat Thanh University (NTTU) will also welcome students back on December 21.

“All entrants to the school must wear face masks from the gate to the campus. Students without face masks will not be allowed inside,” Said Dr. Tran Ai Cam, acting president of NTTU.

Students at the Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City and Van Hien University resumed classes on December 7, while the campus of the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City welcomed their students back since December 11. Sai Gon University, Ton Duc Thang University, and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education have also followed suit.

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