Original article by Ngoc An from Tuoi Tre News on March 31, 2020
English translation by Uyen Phuong Tran
Social distancing to be imposed nationwide for 15 days starting 00:00 on April 1st, 2020.
Today, the Prime Minister has issued the 16th Directive implementing urgent interventions to prevent and control the COVID-19 epidemic.
According to the Prime Minister, COVID-19 has been spreading on a global scale with over 720,000 confirmed cases and approximately 35,000 deaths in more than 200 countries and territories without any sign of stopping. In Vietnam, the number of confirmed cases is increasing every day and community spread has become an immediate threat. Mass spreading of the epidemic is to be expected, resulting in both severe impacts on the health and well-being of the people and the economy and social situations of the whole nation.
Responding to the General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong‘s appeal to make people’s health and lives the highest priority, and to continue the proactive prevention and control of the epidemic, the Prime Minister has requested all ministries and equivalent agencies, Government agencies, the People’s committees of provinces and municipalities focus intensively on implementing the proposed epidemic interventions, particularly the 15th Directive, comply with the directions of the COVID-19 National steering committee for disease prevention and control, and effectively carry out urgent measures.
Nationwide social distancing will be imposed for 15 days starting from 00:00 on April 1st, 2020. The distancing principle is that each family ought to isolate itself from other families, one village from other villages, one commune from other communes, one town from other towns, and one province from other provinces. Factories must ensure that workers maintain safe distances from each other, wear face masks, and perform disinfection procedures as per law.
Everyone is requested to stay home and to only go outside when absolutely necessary, such as groceries shopping, medicine purchasing or in case of medical emergencies, with the exceptions of workers at factories or manufacturing facilities of essential goods or services that can still open, or other urgent cases. People are also requested to strictly maintain a minimum distance of two meters when socializing, avoid gatherings of more than two people outside of working offices, schools, hospitals and other public places.
The Prime Minister requests everyone voluntarily comply with all the guidelines for epidemic prevention and control, pro-actively submit health declarations, carry out all protective measures to ensure the safety of themselves and their families, as well as participate responsibly the epidemic prevention and control activities held by local authorities and communities. Heads of companies, factories, and businesses are responsible for implementing on-site epidemic interventions, ensuring employees’ health and safety.
The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Security, Hanoi City People’s Committee and Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee must immediately and assertively mobilize all resources at all costs to handle efficiently mini-outbreaks at Bach Mai Hospital (in Hanoi) and Buddha Bar (in Ho Chi Minh City). Every hour and minute shall be spent on contact tracing, taking appropriate measures for all high-risk cases or the people who have been in contact with infected patients or have been to aforementioned mini-outbreaks.
People who have been to these mini-outbreaks are encouraged to submit health declarations and reach out to health authorities to get tested. The Ministry of Public Security shall collaborate with the healthcare system to generate lists of all people involved in the operation of Truong Sinh Company as they have high risks of infection, hence, require medical supervision. Quarantine and efficient handling of outbreaks are also of utmost importance.
Involved people’s committees of provinces and cities shall collaborate closely with the ministries and the two cities to execute this well. It’s also important to implement home quarantine and health declaration to categorize, administer testing, and impose mass quarantine if necessary for the people who have been to Bach Mai Hospital since March 12th, 2020. Strict household monitoring shall be conducted by local government.
The Ministry of Public Security and provincial People’s Committees shall immediately conduct review and medical checkups, update on the health status of people who have arrived in country since March 8th, 2020, but have not been placed in quarantine; generate lists of people who have been in direct contact or close contact with infected patients in order to categorize and implement appropriate quarantine measures (i.e. mass quarantine, home quarantine, quarantine at accommodation facilities).
Government agencies and units shall arrange for their officials and employees to use technologies to work from home. Only absolutely necessary cases such as people on military duties, working shifts, providing essential goods and services, processing confidential documents and other important tasks as requested shall work in offices. There should be more use of online conferences. Leaders shall be held responsible if their employees get infected due to the lack of strict compliance with the regulations on epidemic prevention and control in the workplace.
The Ministry of Transport and the People’s Committees of provinces and cities shall make the decision to suspend public transport. Traveling from one area to another shall be limited; traveling from areas with outbreaks to other areas shall be suspended with the exceptions for official businesses and delivery of foods and essentials, shuttles transporting workers and experts for business purposes, and delivery of materials for manufacturing.
The Ministry of Health called on all hospitals to implement strict administration procedures to prevent cross infection in hospitals, tighten supervision and require health declarations from the patients, their families, and caretakers (each patient is allowed to have one caretaker only), and suspend visits at medical facilities. Strict regulations regarding reception of patients shall be in place to prevent the scenario where one infected individual affects the operation of the whole hospital.
Detailed mechanisms and policies to support local manufacturers of medical equipment and devices, especially ventilators, patient monitors, infusion pumps, dialysis machines, shall be proposed and reported to Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung for further directions.
Plans, scenarios, and response capacity in case of the epidemic emergency shall be reported to the Prime Minister by the evening of March 31st, 2020.
Medical checkups ought to be continued and organized at Bach Mai Hospital (Hanoi), ensuring the safety for all staffs, medical workers, and the general public as requested by the Steering Committee and the Ministry of Health.
Proposals of the Hanoi City People’s Committee to help Hanoi contain local outbreaks shall be reviewed and resolved.
The Minister of Health ought to combine the information and announce positive test results in localities twice a day, ensuring the accuracy of the information.
Major and minor checkpoints for passengers at borders with Laos and Cambodia shall be shut down temporarily, effectively 00:00 on April 1st, 2020. Entries at international checkpoints at land borders shall be rigorously monitored; all entries from Laos and Cambodia shall be placed in mass quarantine for 14 days.
The Ministry of Defense shall oversee the organization, management, and expansion of quarantine facilities, separating newly quarantined cases from current ones to prevent cross infection; tighten supervision of paths and trails at borders.
The Ministry of Public Security shall reinforce the effort to maintain order and security, uphold crime prevention and control, particularly in rural areas.
The Ministry of Finance shall direct the General Department of Customs to resolve any impediment to the export of fabric face masks. Insurance companies are ordered to not introduce and launch any insurance plan related to COVID-19.
Ministries, divisions, local authorities and news agencies continue to promote people’s awareness, advocating the (government’s) efforts in protecting people’s health and rectify newspapers that generated misinformation and fearmongering via clickbait titles. Anyone in charge of epidemic prevention and control shall not make any announcement that may induce mass hysteria. The Ministry of Industry and Trade and local People’s Committees shall pay attention to the supplies of foods and essential goods for the people.