PM says Vietnam cannot rely on lockdown measures indefinitely

03 Sep 2021

As Vietnam struggles to contain the most severe coronavirus outbreak to date, the Prime Minister said the country cannot depend on lockdown and quarantine measures indefinitely.

Citizens have been forced to stay at home over the past few weeks, and soldiers have been deployed in the most extreme restrictions yet, to attempt to combat this outbreak that has devastated one of the best containment records in the world.

"We cannot resort to quarantine and lockdown measures forever, as it will cause difficulty for the people and the economy," stated Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Quarantine measures and aggressive contact tracing amongst the population of 98 million had been successful in keeping the virus contained for more than a year, yet Vietnam has been shattered by the Delta variant, Reuters reports.

The total number of coronavirus cases rose from a few thousand at the end of April to a current 480,000, with over 12,000 fatalities. Ho Chi Minh City has been the worst affected, with authorities reporting 13,197 cases and 271 deaths on Thursday.

The Prime Minister said the restrictions were causing "material and mental hardship," and is holding talks with experts on ways to combat the virus.

In addition, the measures have forced labour-intensive businesses to postpone operations.

Industrial output in Vietnam fell in August by 7.4% compared to the year before, with exports falling 5.4%. Retail sales of goods and services plummeted 33.7% as per official figures.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said preventing fatalities was the main priority and the vaccine rollout was an essential strategic measure. 

Around 2.9% of the Vietnamese population have been vaccinated, although the fatality rate is 2.5% higher than the global 2.1% rate, according to health ministry data.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is evolving in a complicated and unpredictable manner and may last for a long time," Chinh added.