Vietnam’s national COVID-19 task force on Wednesday ordered citizens to publicly declare their health status or risk losing access to telecommunications, state media reported as the communist country of 95 million people grappled with new outbreaks in several regions.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, who heads the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, ordered all citizens to submit the mandatory health declarations.
Those from areas most affected by the disease who fail to submit their declarations after the first reminder will be disconnected from telecommunications services.
The committee also recommended people continue to wear face masks and use sanitizer, while exercising social distancing practices and avoiding public gatherings.
Also Wednesday, the health department in the northern province of Hai Duong announced two more outbreaks in the Ninh Giang And Cam Giang districts, but they have not yet clarified the source of transmission.
Authorities on Jan. 27 identified a new outbreak centered on Hai Duong caused by the variant of the virus first detected in the UK.
As of Wednesday, the province reported 226 confirmed cases in 7 districts and cities. Authorities are preparing a new field hospital with 200 beds, set to open on Feb. 6, joining two others already in operation.
Since the start of the Hai Duong outbreak the country has reported 329 new cases including 13 local transmissions in Gia Lai province in the central highlands region, and four in Binh Duong province in the south.
The ministry of health on Wednesday set up a mission in Gia Lai to prevent and control the spread of the disease. It will be led by Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen and other medical officials.
The province is keeping a close eye on COVID-19 patients at two hospitals and a district-level medical center.
In Binh Duong, local authorities locked down two areas of the province, home to about 10,000 residents.
Vietnam has been among the most successful countries in tackling COVID-19, reporting no deaths among its 95 million people through late July—a record that was attributed to effective contact tracing, strict quarantines, and early testing.
An outbreak in July and August centered on Danang threatened to bring the daily confirmed case total into the high double digits, but daily cases returned to single digits by the end of August.
The 329 news cases since Jan. 27 brings the country’s total confirmed cases to 1,911, 1,022 of which resulted from local infections. Recoveries from COVID-19 totaled 1,461 and deaths remained at 35.
The country is currently quarantining 48,829 people who were found to have had close contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients or who arrived from areas affected by the pandemic. Most are quarantining in their homes, but more than 22,000 are in state-run facilities and close to 400 are in hospitals, according to the steering committee.
Meanwhile in the country’s southernmost Ca Mau province, authorities found a fishing vessel carrying 34 Vietnamese migrants who were illegally returning home from Malaysia.
The vessel, owned by Captain Pham Van Chin, a resident of the province, provided passage to nine men and 25 women who said they were returning to their hometowns for Tet, also known as the Lunar New Year holiday.
Though they had traveled to Malaysia by air, they had to return by boat due to a suspension of flights on coronavirus concerns. Malaysia to date has confirmed 222,628 cases with 791 deaths. Daily case totals have steadily increased from the single to low-double digits in early September to more than 5,000 in late January.
The 34 Vietnamese migrants and the captain were sent to local quarantine centers, where they will join 38 other migrants and another captain who authorities discovered trying to return to Ca Mau from Malaysia on Jan. 22.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong.