Hanoi, Vietnam: Beginning Monday, more than 10 million people in Ho Chi Minh City will be subjected to a harsh overnight curfew in an unprecedented attempt to combat infections as Vietnam battles a growing Covid-19 outbreak.
Following last year’s success in limiting restricted coronavirus outbreaks, the communist country is currently seeing an increase in infections and deaths due to the extremely contagious Delta variety.
The northern industrial centers and Ho Chi Minh City in the south have been hardest impacted, with more than 62,000 illnesses reported since April, accounting for the majority of Vietnam’s 101,000 cases.
For more than two months, authorities have restricted travel in the once-bustling commercial powerhouse, and in early July, they imposed a lockdown. Residents are only allowed to leave the house for medical reasons or food.
However, effective Monday, a severe stay-at-home order would be in force from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time, though officials refused to use the term “curfew.” The measure does not have a set termination date.
“Local law enforcement will need to step up patrols… and issue appropriate penalties for offenders, even detention in cases of resistance,” said city Mayor Nguyen Thanh Phong, according to state media.
Almost all public transportation links to the city have already been suspended, and visitors arriving from the city must spend at least two weeks in obligatory quarantine centers.
More than a third of Vietnam’s 100 million people are currently in lockdown, including residents of Hanoi, the country’s capital.
On Monday, the military sprayed disinfectant along key boulevards throughout the city, passing ancient structures and Hoan Kiem Lake, a popular tourist attraction.
Military personnel will continue the decontamination program for the next three days, according to an army officer.
Due to its effectiveness in limiting the virus during the initial wave of the pandemic, Vietnam was one of the only economies to grow last year.
However, vaccines have proved difficult to obtain and deliver, with only 4.7 million doses distributed so far.
It’s also researching its own vaccines, with officials hoping to achieve herd immunity by early 2022.