Vietnam works to slow Covid-19 spread

Priests and nuns offer medical masks to students in front of a high school in Vietnam’s Thai Binh province on March 6. Photo: UCAN/ courtesy Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong’s Facebook page

HANOI (UCAN): The Vietnamese government has taken urgent measures to fight the Covid-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak after confirming 10 new cases within a single day. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the prime minister, ordered the implementation of tough emergency measures to prevent the virus from spreading and to tackle those who hide symptoms of infection.

Saying that “to fight the epidemic is to fight enemies” to protect people’s health and live, Nguyen added that some economic loss was acceptable to contain the epidemic.

He also asked government officials to suspend their plans to work abroad to deal with the outbreak in Vietnam.

The Health Ministry confirmed on March 8 that the country had 10 new cases of Covid-19 among people aged 54-74, the most since the epidemic broke out in Vietnam on January 23.

Nine foreigners—seven English, one Mexican and one Irish—and two Vietnamese tested positive for the virus after they arrived in Hanoi on a Vietnam Airlines flight on March 2, the ministry said in a statement.

One of the Vietnamese is a jet-setting 26-year-old woman who returned home from a trip to England, France and Italy. The woman, who tested positive on March 6, passed the disease to a relative and a driver.

The latest cases emerged after a lull since the first 16 patients recovered and were released from hospital on February 25. So far, there have been no deaths in the country.

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The ministry said 100 suspected coronavirus cases are under quarantine while 18,497 others are being monitored.

Nguyen Duc Chung, the mayor of Hanoi, said during a March 8 press conference that Planning and Investment minister, Nguyen Chi Dung, who took the same flight as the woman, tested negative and has been quarantined at his home for 14 days. The flight had 201 passengers and 16 crew.

Hanoi authorities sealed off and disinfected several streets around the woman’s house in Truc Bach ward.

Deputy prime minister, Vu Duc Dam, head of the national steering committee for Covid-19 prevention and control, said the country entered the second stage of the fight against coronavirus outbreak on March 6 when the 17th case emerged.

He asked government bodies to prepare to start to collect public health information on March 10 as a way to contain the epidemic.

Authorities in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and many provinces have decided to keep all schools closed until March 15.

On March 7, the Diocese of Ba Ria suggested parishes suspend all church gatherings and pilgrimages until Palm Sunday.

Catholics have been urged to wear masks while attending Mass and during confession, and to receive the Eucharist in the hand. 

They have also been asked to undertake preventive measures to protect their health and prevent the virus spreading among them.

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