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Vietnam’s largest city announces total closure to curb pandemic

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Aug 20 (EFE).- Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City announced Friday the tightening of Covid-19 control measures, prohibiting residents from leaving their homes as of Monday.

Pham Duc Hai, deputy director of the pandemic control committee in the city, said Friday that given the persistence of the virus in the city despite the confinement in force since early July, they have decided to toughen the measures. He did not specify the duration of the lockdown.

The measures are accompanied by a deployment of 10,000 soldiers in different parts of the city, through which military vehicles have been circulating since this morning, and at the airport, where flights are restricted.

Although citizens will not be able to go out even to buy food, authorities guaranteed they would have access to supplies, which will be managed by the army together with select supermarket chains.

The announcement, produced after the record of infections in the country was broken yesterday with 10,639 new cases, has caused scenes of nervousness in the city since rumors began in the morning, with supermarkets packed with people.

Ho Chi Minh City is the epicenter of the devastating wave of Covid-19 that Vietnam has suffered since the end of April, recording 164,342 infections out of a total 308,559 countrywide.

The city of about 13 million inhabitants has registered 80 percent of the more than 7,000 deaths from coronavirus in the country.

The different social distancing measures imposed in recent months have lowered the numbers of infections in the city but have not managed to bring them under control, which has caused the spread of the virus in the neighboring provinces of Binh Duong and Dong Nai.

The temporary closure of factories and other work centers has caused a major economic crisis, with thousands of workers from other areas of the country trapped in the city without income for weeks and unable to return to their home provinces due to movement restrictions.

Authorities try to alleviate the problems with aid packages, which often do not reach workers because they are not registered as residents and which in many cases have survived since weeks ago due to the multiple charitable actions carried out by companies and individuals.

The crisis caused authorities to accelerate the vaccination rate in recent weeks, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, where almost 70 percent of the registered population has received the first dose. EFE

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