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Vietnam deploys troops to enforce strict coronavirus lockdown in largest city

A military checkpoint is seen during lockdown amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, on August 23, 2021.(Photo by Reuters)

Vietnam has deployed troops to its largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, to help the police enforce a strict coronavirus lockdown, following a sharp rise in infections and deaths from the more contagious Delta variant in the country’s business hub.

Soldiers were delivering food to residents of the city and checking people’s permits and documents on Monday, according to witnesses and images on state media.

The announcement of the tight lockdown triggered panic-buying at supermarkets in the city over the weekend, after the government said that people are prohibited from leaving their homes even for food on Friday.  

The toughest restrictions which began on Monday will remain in effect for at least two weeks.

A military checkpoint is seen during lockdown amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on August 23, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

Vietnam implemented movement restrictions in Ho Chi Minh City early last month, but decided to announce its harshest curbs following a surge in infections.

Authorities believe enforcement of recent curbs has not been sufficiently strict in the city, which has become the epicenter of the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak so far during the pandemic.

Ho Chi Minh City has recorded over 180,000 infections - half the country's total - and 7,010 deaths, making up about 80% of the nation's fatalities, according to the health ministry.

The ministry said Vietnam has over recent weeks sent 14,600 additional doctors and nurses to the city and its neighboring provinces to support its overwhelmed medical system.

Patients with mild or no symptoms have been told to self isolate at home.

The government also announced on Friday it would send 130,000 tonnes of rice from state stockpiles to Ho Chi Minh City and 23 other cities and provinces.

People in the city's Phu Nhuan and Go Vap districts told Reuters they had received packages of rice, meat, fish and vegetables from the military.

After managing to contain COVID-19 for much of last year, Vietnam has recorded 358,456 infections and at least 8,666 fatalities, with the majority recorded since late April.

A lone car is seen on an empty highway during lockdown amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on August 23, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

Vietnam received two shipments of 501,600 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses from Poland and 200,000 Sinopharm doses donation from China on Monday, the government said.

In total, the country has secured over 23 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines but just 1.8% of its 98 million people have been fully vaccinated - one of the lowest rates in the region.


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