Vietnam's prime minister asked Hanoi and HCMC on Sunday to review and update Covid-19 plans to "ensure readiness for city lockdown scenarios."
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was speaking at an online meeting on the Covid-19 fight with leaders of five biggest cities - Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, Da Nang and Can Tho.
Phuc asked Hanoi and HCMC to ensure resources, especially food, for all circumstances and deal strictly with speculators raising prices of food and medical supplies.
Saying that Vietnam has entered the Covid-19 pandemic's peak period, Phuc asked the five city administrations to intensify their focus, speed up, and "take advantage of each hour and minute to carry out defined measures."
The cities should ready human resources and supplies to deal with the virus on a larger scale, strictly prevent people moving from outbreak areas to other areas, and be ready to support other localities if they are overloaded with infections, he said.
The Health Ministry and localities nationwide must also review and update plans on mobilizing human resources, materials and facilities to ensure supply of food and essential goods in case the Covid-19 situation worsens, the PM said.
Cities are densely populated with much higher concentration of economic activities and interactions. Their prevention and control work will be decisive for the nation, he added.
Apart from common measures, the prime minister asked city leaders to identify solutions that suit each locality, focusing on areas at high risk of infection such as apartments, office buildings, wet markets and hospitals.
Cities must be ready to deal with any situation, including emergency scenarios, he stressed.
He tasked the ministries of Health, Public Security and the People's Committees of Hanoi and HCMC with stamping out the Covid-19 outbreaks at the Bach Mai Hospital and the Buddha Bar & Grill in District 2's Thao Dien Ward, which have been linked to dozens of cases.
The Transport Ministry was asked to suspend international passenger flights to Vietnam and minimize flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to other localities and vice versa over the next two weeks, except for special cases. Trains, buses and other transportation services should also be limited, the PM said.
Those who intentionally make incorrect epidemiological declarations or fail to comply with quarantine regulations can face criminal charges.
On March 26, the Prime Minister had asked localities across the country to stop social events, gatherings of over 20 people in a place and gatherings of 10 people or more outside workplaces, schools and hospitals. A minimum distance of 2 m between people in public places should be ensured, he said.
Many localities have completely stopped religious ceremonies and activities of 20 or more people at places of worship, and suspended all cultural, sports and recreational activities in public places.
The government had also requested suspension of "non-essential" businesses, except for shops selling food, medicine and fuel, until April 15.
Of Vietnam's 194 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 25 have been discharged after treatment.
Starting March 22, Vietnam suspended entry for all foreign nationals, including those of Vietnamese origin and family members with visa waivers and halted all international flights from March 25.
The Covid-19 pandemic has killed nearly 34,000 people in 199 countries and territories.