Vietnam prime minister tells provinces to ease strict coronavirus measures

A woman exercises at a park amid the Covid-19 outbreak in Ho Chi Minh city on June 1, 2021.
A woman exercises at a park amid the Covid-19 outbreak in Ho Chi Minh city on June 1, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOI (BLOOMBERG) - Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Saturday (June 5) called on local governments to ease overly strict pandemic-prevention measures that affect production and business activity, and prevent the nation from achieving its dual goals of fighting the virus and developing the economy.

Vietnam is currently battling its worst Covid-19 outbreak, with about 5,500 cases reported in 39 out of 63 provinces and cities since late April.

Several centres, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, have put social-distancing measures in place to curtail the virus while others have imposed controls on returnees from affected areas, Mr Chinh said in a statement.

"Some locations, however, have slapped rigid and extreme measures that have hit production and business activities, putting supply chains and large-scale production at risk of disruption," the premier said.

He told the authorities nationwide to ensure they are putting the correct people in quarantine and are not blocking transportation and banning trade.

The directive came on the same day that Ho Chi Minh City asked officials in the bordering Dong Nai province to adopt a virus-control plan that creates favourable conditions for goods transportation and the movement of workers between the city and the province.

Authorities in Dong Nai, home to 32 industrial parks, have been widely criticised over the province's 21-day mandatory self-quarantine, or paid quarantine at hotels, for people who return from Ho Chi Minh City from June 5.

State media reported national roads linking the city and Dong Nai yesterday were congested with goods trucks, passenger buses and motorbikes, with many cancelling Dong Nai trips to avoid quarantine.

More than 6,000 people working at Ho Chi Minh City's 17 industrial parks reside in Dong Nai and a large number of Ho Chi Minh residents work in the neighbouring province, according to city authorities.

Ho Chi Minh City imposed social-distancing measures from May 31 for 15 days, including shutting non-essential businesses and restricting gatherings of more than 10 people in public places. It also locked down one district.

At least 15 provinces and cities have mandated quarantines of 14 to 21 days for returnees from Ho Chi Minh City and other virus-hit localities, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported on Friday.

Ho Chi Minh City, which has a population of almost 10 million, has reported 355 local virus cases and one death from May 18, with most infected people tied to a religious group.

The worst-affected areas are the Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces where global electronics makers have factories, and Hanoi, according to the health ministry.