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Ho Chi Minh City ceases large religious events for fear of COVID-19 spread

Ho Chi Minh City ceases large religious events for fear of COVID-19 spread

Sunday, February 21, 2021, 11:01 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City ceases large religious events for fear of COVID-19 spread
Visitors don face masks at Hoang Phap Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Nhat Thu / Tuoi Tre

The Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control (HCDC) has recommended the cancelation of public events with 20 or more people at religious premises and organizations to stem COVID-19 transmission.

The recommendation was stated in an official document sent to all districts of Ho Chi Minh City as well as Thu Duc City, mentioning the guidelines for COVID-19 prevention at religious institutions.

According to HCDC, the city has not recorded any new case of community spread over the past week, yet the risk still pertains, considering a huge wave of internal migrant workers are coming back to the southern metropolis after the Lunar new Year holiday, which ended earlier this week.

The center cited a religious ceremony held on Friday at Vien Giac Pagoda in Tan Binh District as an example of failure to adhere to COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

After the large public gathering was detected, the management of Vien Giac Pagoda were held accountable by the local Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

Given a series of religious gatherings slated to take place after the Lunar New Year holiday, the HCDC required lower-level health authorities to reinforce COVID-19 prevention efforts.

They were also asked to cancel all religious ceremonies and disperse crowds of more than 20 people.

When holding events with fewer than 20 attendees, or events of more than 20 attendees are permitted, COVID-19 prevention guidelines must always be upheld.

Participants must undergo body temperature checks, wear face masks, wash hands, and keep safe distance of at least one meter during their time at the religious events.

People identified as returnees from outbreak regions or breaking off from self-isolation must be reported to local authorities or clinics for medical monitoring.

The HCDC requires the organizing boards of religious ceremonies to ensure medical declaration, body temperature checks and prepare face masks for ceremony goer.

Hand sanitizer, soap, and separate portions of drinks should also be prepared.

Ceremony organizers should also regularly disinfect the venue, including tables and seating, door knobs, and restrooms, among others.

The HCDC also requires religious institutions to boost promotion of the contact tracing app Bluezone as well as medical declaration among worshippers.

Religious speeches are recommended to be switched to online forms to reduce risks of transmission in large crowds.

On top of that, local authorities are tasked with guiding worshippers on adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures.

Vietnam has recorded 2,368 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday morning, with 1,627 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

A total of 776 local infections have been detected in 13 provinces and cities since January 27, 596 of which have been documented in Hai Duong Province alone.

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