Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vietnam’s HCMC ‘under pressure’ to open economy



Vietnam’s HCMC ‘under pressure’ to open economy

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Residents at a vaccination site in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). The Vietnamese pandemic hotspot is under great pressure to reopen the economy after months of strict social distancing measures. VIETNAM NEWS AGENCY

Vietnam’s HCMC ‘under pressure’ to open economy

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is committed to enforcing vigilant pandemic prevention measures when it reopens the economy after months of strict lockdown measures, said a city chief.

Speaking at a meeting with economic and medical experts on September 17, Nguyen Van Nen, secretary of the southern Vietnamese city’s Party Committee, said: “The city is under huge pressure to reopen the economy or it will be too late.”

The level of suffering of the economy and people has reached its limit due to prolonged lockdown measures. As such, the city will develop a roadmap for reopening so that it can adapt to and live safety with the virus, he said.

The city will gradually narrow down areas with very high risks and try to expand the number of low-risk areas, according to Nen.

Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management director Vu Thanh Tu Anh said that reopening for economic development and social security has become more urgent than ever as both businesses and people, especially the poor, are struggling due to the lockdowns.

“The economic cost will be huge if we delay the reopening further,” he noted.

He said it was too expensive to conduct large-scale testing for HCMC’s entire population. In addition, the city’s revenue and central government revenue are facing challenges as the cost of pandemic prevention has been extremely high.

Anh called for the Ministry of Health to adjust regulations and safety criteria for the city’s reopening.

HCMC Institute for Research and Development director Dr Tran Hoang Ngan pointed out that “when the city’s revenue is in trouble, it will also affect national financial resources”.

Economics expert Tran Du Lich has called on the city to change its pandemic fighting strategy and not focus on tracing all close contacts of positive cases.

HCMC Public Health Association chairman Le Truong Giang said that although the city has applied strict measures for months, the number of cases has not fallen as planned.

Vaccines and medicines are the “two weapons to fight the pandemic”, he said.

“Testing will help to detect cases early so as to avoid the risk of becoming more seriously ill. It will also help bring the tested people back to normal life and restore social activities.”

“Though the city has not been able to contain the outbreak according to the Ministry of Health criteria, it must consider gradually opening up,” he said.

HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy rector Tran Diep Tuan said the number of new cases had not reached a “safe level” under the ministry’s criteria and the city must discuss the set of criteria and take adaptive measures.

Former HCMC Institute of Public Health director Le Hoang Ninh said the city’s strategy is to vaccinate everyone as it cannot remain in lockdown forever.

Ninh said it was important to focus on testing high-risk groups, instead of mass testing, which he said was a waste of resources. “The city must find ways to live with the virus because it is not going to be eradicated.”

Dr Nguyen The Dung, former director of the city Department of Health, said HCMC needs to focus on setting basic goals such as reducing the number of deaths and seriously ill cases.

The city initially planned to ease lockdown measures after September 15 but the deadline was extended until the end of the month.

It is speeding up vaccinations for its adult population aged 18 and over and consulting with medical and economic experts about a vaccine green card system that would allow people to travel and work with fewer restrictions.

According to the HCMC Centre for Disease Control, as of September 15, the city had administered 8,452,609 vaccine shots, including 6.6 million first shots and 1.7 million second shots. Nearly one million people aged 65 and over and people with underlying conditions have been vaccinated.

The rate of first-shot coverage in the city has reached 92.5 per cent. The city has set a target to vaccinate all adults aged 18 and above by the end of the year.

VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a

  • Textile industry minimum wage now $200

    The official minimum wage for workers in textile-related sectors including garment, footwear, and travel goods for 2023 was pegged at $198, with Prime Minister Hun Sen stepping in to add $2 to the total, making it $200 per month. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training made the announcement