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Ho Chi Minh City chairman demands COVID-19 checkpoints set up at traffic hubs, entrances

Ho Chi Minh City chairman demands COVID-19 checkpoints set up at traffic hubs, entrances

Ho Chi Minh City chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong ordered on Monday that checkpoints be set up at traffic hubs and entrances to the city to stem coronavirus spread.

Chairman Phong gave the order at an urgent meeting on COVID-19 prevention and control against a backdrop of the pathogen having infected 442 people in 26 provinces and cities since April 27, including one case in Ho Chi Minh City.

The city leader said he was “genuinely worried” perusing the national list of local infections recorded since that date, when Vietnam detected the first domestic case after having spent about a month finding no transmission in the community.

Pandemic control is the top priority of the city at the moment, the chairman underlined, adding that all government agencies have to roll up their sleeves.

“An outbreak will shatter all of our work plans,” chairman Phong remarked.

He underscored that the city must stay on high alert for COVID-19, with checkpoints having to be set up at traffic hubs and entrances to it.

Health workers, police officers, and soldiers will operate these checkpoints.

Those arriving in Ho Chi Minh City from outbreak sites have to file health declarations at such checkpoints, Phong was quoted by VnExpress as saying.

Ho Chi Minh City established 62 similar checkpoints in April 2020, when Vietnam enforced extensive social distancing rules because of a serious outbreak.

The municipal administration dismantled them after three weeks, when the virus had been kept at bay.

Ho Chi Minh City is at high risk of coping with a large outbreak, Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the local Department of Health, said at Monday’s meeting.

Tens of thousands of people returned to the city from their hometowns or tourist destinations after a recent public holiday, lasting from April 30 to May 3 inclusive, Binh explained.

Ho Chi Minh City is a transport hub with 60 small and major seaports so it is possibly easy for the virus to spread from ship passengers to the local community.

The risk also comes from centralized quarantine centers, foreign experts granted entry into Vietnam, crowded hospitals, and border jumpers, Binh added.

Local health authorities have prepared resources to conduct up to 40,000 coronavirus tests in a day if necessary, he said.

“We’re working on plans to build a 5,000-bed field hospital while practicing for a scenario where we’d have to treat 30,000 coronavirus patients at a time, as required by the prime minister,” the official revealed.

Vietnam’s health ministry reported a daily rise of 109 local infections in its unexpected report around noon on Monday. Normally it provides daily updates at 6:00 am and 6:00 pm.

The Southeast Asian country has documented 3,444 local and imported COVID-19 infections as of Monday afternoon, according to the ministry’s statistics.

Recoveries have hit 2,602 while virus-related deaths have remained at 35 for months.

The current bout is much more serious because patients have been found catching the highly contagious ‘double-mutant’ Indian variant, health experts said.

The Southeast Asian country has administered 851,513 out of its stock of 917,600 AstraZeneca vaccine doses, the health ministry said in a report on Monday morning.

Those vaccinated were medical staff and other frontline workers.

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