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Vietnam's southern localities urge halt to pandemic-hit people returning to hometowns

Vietnam's southern localities urge halt to pandemic-hit people returning to hometowns

Monday, October 04, 2021, 16:44 GMT+7
Vietnam's southern localities urge halt to pandemic-hit people returning to hometowns
Numerous people are seen at a gateway to Long Xuyen City, An Giang Province, Vietnam, October 2, 2021. Photo: Minh Tri / Tuoi Tre

The leaders of 13 Mekong Delta localities of Vietnam have filed a petition to the government proposing a suspension of the waves of COVID-19-affected people coming back to the region spontaneously, for these localities need more time for preparations to quarantine them.

The return should be halted for 15 days so that local authorities could have time to prepare for receiving the returnees safely, said Tran Van Lau, chairman of Soc Trang Province People’s Committee.

Lau is among the 13 leaders who have submitted their joint proposal to the government’s special task force in charge of COVID-19 prevention and control.

These officials suggested the government direct all pandemic-hit localities to prevent people from spontaneously leaving their current residence for their hometowns.

While authorities of many localities have arranged coaches to transport residents back to their native provinces, these random returnees traveled home by motorbike.

“Such a suspension will give time for these provinces to prepare all necessary steps to take back returnees safely and thoroughly,” Lau explained.

Internal migrant workers have flocked back to their native land in the Mekong Delta in droves over the past few days, after the government loosened COVID-19 restrictions to pave the way for the country’s socio-economic operations after months of lockdown, the official said.

“Nearly 30,000 people have headed back to Soc Trang during the past days. The province is not able to receive any more than that number,” Lau warned.     

After undergoing screenings, the returnees have been placed under centralized quarantine at schools and provided with food and other necessities, which have been paid for by the province’s budget and benefactors, the official said.

Numerous people are seen at a gateway to Long Xuyen City, An Giang Province on the evening of October 2, 2021. Photo: Minh Tri / Tuoi Tre

Numerous people are seen at a gateway to Long Xuyen City, An Giang Province, Vietnam, October 2, 2021. Photo: Minh Tri / Tuoi Tre

The same situation takes place in An Giang Province, with a total of 15,000 people coming back by Sunday morning, said chairman of the provincial administration Nguyen Thanh Binh.

Of these people, more than 5,200 had been sent back to their home localities, while the remainder have been waiting for admission, Binh said.

All waiting people have been arranged to stay at schools or stadiums in the provincial capital city of Long Xuyen, said the official.

The provincial education authorities have given a nod to relevant agencies to use 700 school campuses as quarantine facilities or reception sites for returnees.

The local epidemic situation remains complicated with community coronavirus infections growing recently, especially in Phu Tan, Tan Chaum, and Cho Moi Districts.

All centralized isolation sites and COVID-19 treatment facilities in the province have been overloaded while its resources for epidemic prevention and control are limited, Binh said.

The province’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage is quite low, with the rates of people receiving the first and second shots reaching only 21 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively.  

Therefore, the massive return has imposed great pressure on local health authorities and, at the same time, caused a high risk of new COVID-19 outbreaks, said the local leader.

Screening examinations performed on the returnees on October 1 alone detected tens of people testing positive for COVID-19, the official warned.  

Meanwhile, more than 20,000 people had returned to Dong Thap Province by Sunday morning, said Pham Thien Nghia, chairman of the provincial government.

Currently, the returnees are temporarily staying at schools, waiting for being sent to their home localities for screening and classification, Nghia said, adding that local authorities have called for support for them.

“If the situation persists, we cannot secure enough resources to deal with COVID-19 threats,” the official warned.

Since it erupted in the country in early 2020, the pandemic has caused over 800,000 COVID-19 cases, including nearly 700,000 recoveries and over 19,700 deaths, the Ministry of Health reported on Sunday evening.

Except Cao Bang, the coronavirus has spread to 62 out of the country’s 63 cities and provinces, with Ho Chi Minh City suffering the most with 394,616 infections and 15,148 fatalities.

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Vinh Tho / Tuoi Tre News

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