Vietnam to implement 15 days of social distancing in coronavirus battle

From midnight April 1, people in Vietnam are required to stay at home and can only go out to buy food or in emergency situations. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HANOI (BLOOMBERG) - Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered a 15-day period of isolation nationwide beginning Wednesday (April 1) , according to a statement on the government's website.

Residents must stay at home and can only go outside for "essential needs," such as food, medicines, urgent medical services or to go to work at companies permitted by the government to remain open, it said.

Gatherings of more than two people in public areas other than schools, hospitals or workplaces are banned. People must keep a distance of at least two metres between each other.

The prime minister ordered the transport ministry and local authorities to suspend public transportation and to limit travel between provinces, the statement said.

Travel from virus-hit areas to other cities and provinces is banned, except for essential reasons, such as delivery of food or transporting of workers and materials for production.

Phuc also directed the defence ministry to expand quarantine centres and asked the trade ministry and local authorities to maintain a supply of food and essential goods needed for residents.

The government has already directed many businesses across the country, from restaurants to gyms, to shut down and restricted international and domestic flights. Vietnam has confirmed 204 infection cases, with 55 recovered.

Over the weekend, officials ordered Hanoi's Bach Mai Hospital - one of the nation's largest medical centers - to be locked down and demanded thousands of employees and people who recently visited it to be tested for Covid-19 after nurses and food workers contracted the disease. The health ministry has reported 33 virus patients tied to the hospital.

The economy has already taken a hit from the pandemic and efforts to contain it. Growth slowed to 3.82% in the first quarter as the coronavirus outbreak hurt key industries from tourism to manufacturing.

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