Vietnam locks down capital Hanoi for 15 days as cases rise

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Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam announced a 15-day lockdown in the capital Hanoi starting Saturday as a coronavirus surge spread from the southern Mekong Delta region.

The lockdown order, issued late Friday night, bans the gathering of more than two people in public. Only government offices, hospitals and essential businesses are allowed to stay open.

Earlier in the week, the city had suspended all outdoor activities and ordered non-essential businesses to close following an increase in cases.

On Friday, Hanoi reported 70 confirmed infections, the city’s highest, part of a record 7,295 cases in the country in the last 24 hours.

Nearly 5,000 of them are from Vietnam’s largest metropolis, southern Ho Chi Minh City, which has also extended its lockdown until Aug. 1.

In the latest wave of COVID-19 since April, Vietnam has recorded over 83,000 infections and 335 deaths.

A meeting of the National Assembly that opened in Hanoi on Tuesday with 499 delegates is going ahead, although it was shortened to 12 from the original 17 days.

The delegates have been vaccinated, are regularly tested for the coronavirus and are traveling in a bubble, and are isolated at hotels, according to the National Assembly.

Nationwide, Vietnam has imposed restrictions on movement in about one-third of its 63 cities and provinces since the outbreak began in late April.

Ho Chi Minh City, which accounts for around 60% of the total cases, has asked Vietnam’s prime minister for more personnel to help combat the current outbreak, the health ministry said in a Facebook post on Friday.

Vietnam, which has heavily relied on AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, is trying to accelerate its inoculation programme. The country has so far received more than 10.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine. Around 4.4 million doses have been administered in the country, but fewer than 335,000 people have been fully vaccinated, official data showed.—AP

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