59 localities to be listed in low risk group of COVID-19 transmission

Wednesday, 2020-04-22 15:27:42
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Hanoi has been recommended to extend social distancing measures set under the PM’s Directive 16/CT-TTg until April 30, 2020. (Photo for illustration: NDO/Nam Giang)
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NDO – The National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control has agreed to suggest to the Prime Minister the approval of a list of 59 provinces and cities with low risks of COVID-19 transmission, after the three-week nationwide social restriction period finishes on April 22.

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At a meeting this morning, the committee members discussed the re-classification of all localities across the nation after three weeks of implementing the PM’s Directive 16/CT-TTg on national social distancing, which started on April 1 and was extended to April 22 a week ago.

At a cabinet meeting on April 15, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc agreed with a proposal from the committee on classifying the risks in different localities. Twelve cities and provinces were deemed to be facing a high risk of infection, with 15 facing a medium risk and the 36 remaining facing a low risk.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, who is also the head of the Steering Committee, up until now, Vietnam has been controlling the epidemic well, thanks to effective leadership, proper and effective implementation of preventative measures, and the participation of the whole society in the fight.

Although the situation is getting better, it is important not to be subjective, Dam stressed, adding that the relaxed measures are necessary to restore socio-economic activities but they must ensure precautions regarding epidemic prevention and control.

In that spirit, the Steering Committee has assigned experts to consult with localities about the criteria to assess disease transmission risks based on local practices after the three-week social distancing period.

At the meeting this morning, the committee agreed to re-classify 63 provinces and cities nationwide into three groups, with only Hanoi in the high risk group of COVID-19 transmission, Ho Chi Minh City, Bac Ninh and Ha Giang in the group with risks, while the remaining 59 localities are in the low risk group.

Though HCM City reported its latest COVID-19 case 25 days ago, because of its dense population and other risk factors, it remains in the medium-risk group, which require thorough mechanisms in containing the disease. Meanwhile, Bac Ninh and Ha Giang had their latest cases on April 11 and April 16 respectively, yet passing the 14-day period as regulated.

The National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control convenes a meeting on April 22, 2020. (Photo: baochinhphu.vn)

The Steering Committee recommended that for the high-risk locality (Hanoi), it is necessary to continue implementing Directive 16 for another week, until April 30. However, the committee proposed the PM allow the Hanoi People’s Committee to decide under its authority the opening of shops operating non-essential service, as well as street business operation based on the practical situation in the capital city, with epidemic prevention ensured.

For the group with risks, the chairpersons of the municipal or provincial People's Committees were proposed to be granted the right to decide on the opening of non-essential service shops or street business.

For the low-risk group, stores dealing in non-essential goods and services were proposed to operate, but must fully implement epidemic prevention measures for their purchasers. Store owners must be responsible for the epidemic prevention and control measures of their establishments.

The Steering Committee also suggested localities having border gates, industrial parks and a large volume of freelance workers to attach great importance to epidemic prevention and control for these groups, as well as strengthening infection prevention in local health facilities.

The committee affirmed the restriction of crowding and practicing social distancing under Directive No. 15/CT-TTg dated March 27, 2020 and Directive No. 16/CT-TTg dated March 31, 2020 by the PM is the most effective measure to cope with COVID-19, which has been implemented by other countries around the world.

The committee members also stressed the need to stay vigilant despite the situation having improved. Measures to prevent and control COVID-19 in the near future must be carefully considered on the basis of scientific and socio-economic norms, with practical consultation from localities.

The Steering Committee also submitted to the PM a draft for a new directive after taking serious comments from the members of the committee, the localities and other concerned authorities to ensure the control of the epidemic combined with restoring socio-economic activities. The committee also proposed adjusting some criteria in Directive 15 and 16.

Vietnam recorded six straight days with no new COVID-19 infections, keeping the number of infection cases at 268, as of 3 pm on April 22.