Aug 20, 2021 / 15:37

Whether Hanoi continues to distance itself or not?

Hanoi has made initial success in the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak, but the city may not fully reopen in the coming time.

Hanoi decided to block a 36-storey building of 3,000 residents in Linh Dam Urban Area after nearly 30 positive cases were identified on August 20.

This is the second time the HH4C building was blocked in the past two weeks. About 19,000 residents in this area will be sampled for testing by the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) method soon.

The HH4C building, an apartment block in Linh Dam Urban Area, is under lockdown after new cases were identified on August 20. Photo: Vu Le

Under Hanoi's large-scale testing plan, Linh Dam Urban Area is one of the areas assessed at high risk in the capital city. It has had the highest volume of taken samples so far.

After the blockage was enforced, members of several social network groups have raised a similar question: Whether Hanoi continues to distance itself or not? 

Tran Thi Lieu, a 38-year-old resident in Thanh Xuan District, told The Hanoi Times that she feels exhausted after being distanced in the house for a long time.

Lieu said she has stayed at home since July 24 when Hanoi applied strict social distancing order citywide under the Government’s Directive 16 [the highest level of Covid-19 prevention and control]. She just went out to buy some food and other necessities.

“I count the days one by one to enjoy the approach of normalcy, which is expected to take place on August 23 when the strict social distancing order ends, but I feel my dream is leaving far from my hand after the city detects new cases in the community every day, especially those found today in Linh Dam Urban Area,” Lieu said.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, 65, from Hoang Quoc Viet in Bac Tu Liem District, said that this is a terrible time for her family but she has no choice.

Binh said all her family members conformed to the capital city’s strict social distancing order as well as the health ministry’s 5K message. All members everyday watch TV and read articles from local media to update Covid news and learn how to protect themselves from the outbreak.

“On such nearly a month, there are still many new cases identified in Hanoi. When I can go shopping normally?” Binh said.

The old lady said the problem is that many locals have ignored the city’s orders and lacked basic knowledge of Covid-19. As the country is faced with a shortage of vaccines, the local authorities need to give heavier penalties to violators while ensuring social welfares for needy people.

“My family members and I are trying best to not let pandemic fatigue turning into pandemic burnout,” she said.

Initial success 

According to Dr. Tran Dac Phu, a senior advisor of the health ministry’s Public Health Emergency Operations Center, said that not letting the pandemic break out is an initial success of Hanoi, showing the efforts of the political system as well as the people of the capital city.

He said it is impossible to bring the number of cases back to zero immediately, but cutting off the sources of infections is a good result that Hanoi has achieved in the pandemic prevention work in the past time.

Along with strict control of the people traveling on the streets, Hanoi has also been effectively implementing green zones (safe areas), promoting the role of self-management, and monitoring people entering and leaving each alley.

“However, the city’s outbreak is still very high, through screening, there are still new cases (F0s) found in the community. Therefore, the strict social distancing and the 5K message is an extremely important measure to cut off the source of infection,” Phu said.

In addition, Hanoi also needs to take measures to prevent the risk of infection from chains such as banks, post offices, and goods delivery services.”

Phu said taking advantage of the current social distancing period, Hanoi needs to speed up vaccination for high-risk people including the elderly, people with underlying medical conditions, and those in high-risk pandemic areas.

“The injection is not only for people having household registration books but also those living and working in the city because the pandemic can spread to everyone in the area,” Phu said.

Deputy Director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Hanoi Khong Minh Tuan said that in the context of the serious development of the Covid-19 pandemic with many F0s who have been found unknown sources of infection and no epidemiological factors, monitoring and taking samples for people with cough and fever play a very important role as it contributes to separating F0s from the community.

A health worker takes a sample for Covid019 testing in Hanoi. Photo: Ha Linh

He said Hanoi has been carrying out the second large-scale testing for people in the blockade and high-risk areas since August 18. The city has also taken samples for people with cough and fever and in high-risk areas throughout the city. “The testing will be continued in the next days.”

“The testing results of 800,000 samples will be soon reported to the municipal authorities. It is seen as an important condition for the authorities to make a decision on continuing strict social distancing or not?” Tuan said.

He said whether Hanoi continues to distance itself or not will depend on many factors. “But it is certain that the city would not fully reopen. The city may remove Directive 16 but switch to directive 15 or 19. This will be considered and decided by the city’s authorities in the shortest time.”

The Prime Minister has issued Directive 15, Directive 16, and Directive 19 that will be strictly applied by localities corresponding to the level of risks. Based on the real situation, the localities may apply these solutions earlier and at higher levels but not later and lower than the provisions in the above documents.

Directive 15 mandates suspension to social events, gatherings of 20 people or more in one place and of 10 people or more outside workplaces, schools, and hospitals. A minimum distance of two meters between people in public places is required, while the transport of passengers from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to other places and from hotspots to other localities is limited.

Directive 16 mandates closures of non-essential businesses, restaurants, bans public gatherings and severely limits transportation services. 

Directive 19 regulates that events or public gatherings involving a large crowd will continue to be banned, and non-essential entertainment services remain closed.  However, restaurants, retail and wholesale stores, hotels, and tourist sites may resume operations. It allows public transportation to resume, but all drivers and passengers must wear face masks and sanitizer must be available for passengers.  Schools may re-open under the direction of local authorities.