Refuting rumors of a total lockdown, Ho Chi Minh City leaders have announced other stringent measures, including diligent moves to monitor the traffic flow entering and leaving the city.
The new directions were settled during a meeting on epidemic prevention and control measures on Monday between leaders of Ho Chi Minh City and central government officials.
They squashed rumor that the city would be placed on complete lockdown given the COVID-19 escalation.
During the meeting, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam pointed out a need for all-out and synchronous measures among authorities of all levels in Ho Chi Minh City, as the caseload in the locale has steeply risen in recent weeks.
Dam suggested that more stringent monitoring procedures for entrances to and departures from the city are required, but conveyance of products and groceries to cater the needs of people in the city should be prioritized.
On June 30, the Ministry of Health stated a COVID-19 test result is required for all inter-provincial drivers in the country.
The deputy premier requires Ho Chi Minh City, the Ministry of Health, and other relevant authorities to concur upon a solution for traffic control, which must be announced publicly 24 hours before it is enacted.
Citizens are recommended to only leave or enter Ho Chi Minh City in cases of utmost importance.
Health officials are required to work with information and communication authorities to devise a QR code system detailing vaccination status and testing results of citizens, which can provide COVID-19 checkpoints with necessary information for monitoring purposes.
Dam urged Ho Chi Minh City to keep an eye on the progress of the citywide health declaration plan, plus the utilization of multiple testing techniques to ensure prompt tracing of COVID-19 spread.
“The city should avoid sampling beyond testing capacity,” he said.
“Testing results should provide all details , including viral load, to inform the contact tracing process."
Prioritizing contact tracing, testing
Following a meeting chaired by the premier on Sunday, Ho Chi Minh City leaders have worked to connect the local epidemiological database with the central authority to provide insights on the local situation, said Nguyen Van Nen, secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, during Tuesday's meeting.
The city is prioritizing COVID-19 testing in hotspot areas, ensuring quick results and avoiding excessive sampling.
Local authorities put emphasis on quick contact tracing as it can be key to detecting transmissions and preventing the pathogen from spreading out of control.
According to Nen, the city should uphold its focus on contact tracing and epidemiological investigation. All direct contacts of a confirmed case should be listed within one hour and sent to quarantine centers afterward.
Testing should be repeated every 1-3 days in at-risk areas, while monitoring measures at industrial zones and workers’ residential areas need to be maintained.
Nen also suggested that the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport join forces in conceiving a common COVID-19 testing certificate that is accepted in all provinces of Vietnam.
As Nguyen Huy Dung, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, pointed out, all citizens who use contact tracing apps such as Bluezone or NCOVI have been provided with QR codes, which can act as a certificate at monitoring checkpoints.
He promised that the Ministry of Information and Communications will incorporate coronavirus test results and vaccination status into the current QR code system within 24 hours.
The Ministry of Information and Communications required all people who leave or enter Ho Chi Minh City to complete health declarations and obtain negative test results.
Residents from surrounding areas who have jobs in the city will be subject to regulations as settled between the leaders of Ho Chi Minh City and the respective provinces.
Once the directions on medical declaration, testing results, plus integration of such details into personal QR codes are completed, the issues of long monitoring procedures at airports and road checkpoints will be alleviated, according to Le Anh Tuan, Deputy Minister of Transport.
Vietnam has recorded 17,871 local infections in 55 provinces and cities since a fresh outbreak began on April 27.
Ho Chi Minh is currently the hardest-hit locality with 6,905 cases.