The 15-day partial lockdown imposed in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s largest metropolis, has triggered concerns over effectiveness and welfare.
|Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City set up barriers for the partial lockdown. Photo: Zing|
The restrictions starting today [July 9] required people to stay at home unless in emergencies, buying essential goods, and working in essential sectors. In addition, no public means of transport and motorbike taxi are allowed.
Commenting on the stricter restrictions, Prof. Tran Dac Phu, senior advisor to the Vietnam Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC), said “It’s necessary to take advantage of the lockdown period to contain the virus.” He noted that the key to the city’s anti-pandemic campaign is people’s obedience.
Dr. Le Tuan Thanh from the Ministry of Health said it becomes crucial that family should be isolated from family, closing the door with limited outside activities.
“People’s awareness is one of the keys to containing the pandemic,” Thanh said.
The health expert also cited vaccination and tightened control in hospitals as measures for the city’s anti-pandemic battle.
Meanwhile, Dr. Le Quoc Hung from Cho Ray Hospital highlighted the importance of social distancing when residents go shopping. “Buyers should be notified of their shopping time slot to avoid crowd gathering,” he said.
Dr. Nguyen Thu Anh, country director of Australia-based Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, stressed the need to have a specific plan for financial support to residents affected by the lockdown. It’s better to distribute food to vulnerable groups twice a week to ensure sufficient supply and safety for residents themselves.
“If the Government cannot guarantee the minimum support, it would neither be able to force residents to follow them nor handle this pandemic,” the health professional said.
Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong said the municipal government ensures sufficient supply of essential goods for locals. Accordingly, it has prepared 120,000 tons of food, tripling the demand, which will be distributed through online networks and chains of supermarkets, convenience stores, wet markets, and shops citywide.
One day before the partial lockdown, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said the government will spare no effort to help Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in the fight against Covid-19, including vaccine and other support to ensure welfare for locals.
He asked the ministries of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and Transport (MoT) to smooth the supply of goods to Vietnam’s most populous city.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) is finalizing procedures to disburse the Government’s VND26 trillion (US$1.13 billion) relief package that is expected to help vulnerable people in HCMC timely.
|Part of Ho Chi Minh City on the first day of the restrictions. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Home quarantine for F1
HCMC has applied home quarantine for first-generation contacts of index cases (F1) to ease burden of concentrated quarantine facilities and avoid cross infections.
The trial plan will last until July 19, according to the municipal Department of Health.
The home quarantine will be imposed for F1 with negative antigen rapid testing for Covid-19, those who had close contact with confirmed cases while wearing face masks, the elderly aged above 60, children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, among others.
Under the Ministry of Health’s guidelines, F1 under home quarantine needs to be tested at least five times, which fall on the 1st day, the 7th, the 14th, the 20th, and the 28th day of the quarantine period.
As of July 8, HCMC reported 53,191 people in quarantine, including 15,007 in quarantine centers and the remaining in lodging facilities and at home. The city has more than 9,000 confirmed cases.
Since the pandemic broke out in Vietnam in early 2020, Vietnam has quarantined all F1 in concentrated facilities mostly run by the army. Initially, the Government offered free-of-charge quarantine for both local and foreign quarantined people. When the country suffered more waves of the pandemic, it charges people in the concentrated quarantine but at minimum rates.
The concentrated quarantine has triggered concerns over the burden on the authorities and the health sector in particular and overeating up a huge amount of the State budget.
So far, dozens of countries like Germany, France, Japan, and Singapore have imposed quarantine at home. But they also keep tightened supervision and strict punishment for violators of home quarantine rules.