HANOI: Vietnam has no plans for a widespread COVID-19 lockdown and will only put areas considered epicentres under strict quarantine, the government's spokesperson said on Monday (Aug 3).
"We will only implement social distancing in areas considered virus epicentres, and will not pursue a widespread lockdown," Mai Tien Dung told a monthly press conference on Monday.
Dung said selective lockdown measures would allow the government to achieve the dual goals of containing the virus and boosting the economy at the same time.
"If there's an infection in a hamlet, we will lock down that hamlet only, not the whole district or the whole province," he said.
On Monday, Vietnam reported 21 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 642.
All of the new cases are linked to Danang, a tourism hot spot where Vietnam's first domestically transmitted case in 100 days was detected on Jul 24.
The source of the new outbreak is unclear but it has spread to at least 10 places, including the capital, Hanoi, and the business hub of Ho Chi Minh City
There have been nearly 200 cases since the virus resurfaced in Danang, with six deaths.
Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Monday that early August would be a decisive period for preventing a large-scale spread of the coronavirus, state broadcaster VTV reported.
"We have to deploy full force to curb all known epicentres, especially those in Danang," VTV quoted Phuc as telling a meeting of government officials.
"Early August will be the decisive time within which to stop the virus from spreading on a large scale."
Phuc said this current wave of infection could have a more "critical impact" than the previous one and ordered officials to both contain the spread and maintain supply chains, the report said.
Authorities said on Sunday the strain of virus detected in Danang was a more contagious one, and that each infected person could infect five to six people, compared with 1.8 to 2.2 for infections earlier in the year.
The government said on Saturday it planned to test Danang's entire population of 1.1 million people, part of "unprecedented measures" to fight the outbreak. The city imposed a lockdown last week, banning movement in and out of the city and closing entertainment venues.
Buon Ma Thuot, a city in Vietnam's coffee-growing Central Highlands region, was placed under lockdown on Monday, state media reported.