Ho Chi Minh City authorities on Wednesday suspended the local COVID-19 response office after about six months of operation, thanks to the city’s success in keeping the pandemic at bay.
Pursuant to a decision signed by city chairman Phan Van Mai on Wednesday, staffers from the local High Command, the Department of Health, police, and other agencies who had been stationed at the headquarters will return to their departments.
The health department will continue to coordinate with other agencies in the fight against COVID-19 and regularly update, monitor, and forecast epidemic developments inside and outside the city, the decision said.
Local police are required to strengthen their management of residents and tighten control over entries and exits in order to detect and handle illegal entrants or people returning from coronavirus-hit areas without making health declarations.
Should the epidemic situation once again become complicated, the High Command must promptly advise the city’s administration to re-activate the command office.
Established in early July 2021 at the height of the fourth virus wave, the 16-member office was headed by then-city chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong, who was replaced by Mai on August 24, 2021.
The command office had been tasked with giving consultancy on policies, plans, and measures necessary to fight the epidemic.
It had also made proposals to purchase equipment for COVID-19 prevention and control, using money from both sponsors and the state budget.
Particularly, the headquarters were assigned to ask for direction from the municipal government if a state of emergency or curfew was needed to slow viral transmissions.
Ho Chi Minh City had imposed various levels of social distancing since May 31, 2021 before loosening restrictions in early October, when the city and Vietnam in general reached far larger vaccination coverage and began living safely with the coronavirus.
The nine-million-strong population of the city had received over 8.09 million first vaccine doses and some 7.25 million second jabs as of Wednesday, according to the national COVID-19 vaccination portal.
Recently, the city has seen its daily infections and fatalities sharply fall, to 448 and 25 on Wednesday, compared to 1,491 and 67 a month earlier, according to the Ministry of Health’s data.
However, Ho Chi Minh City remains the locality suffering the most from COVID-19 in Vietnam, with 507,316 infections and 19,657 deaths documented since the pandemic erupted in the Southeast Asian country in early 2020.