Vietnam Calls on Army For Food Delivery Ahead of Lockdown

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- Vietnam's government said it is sending troops to Ho Chi Minh City to help deliver food and aid to households as it further tightens restrictions on people's movements amid a worsening surge of the coronavirus.

The army personnel will be deployed to help with logistics as the city of 10 million people asks residents to "stay put" for two weeks starting from Monday, a report on the government website said Friday.

The move comes as Vietnam, which weathered much the pandemic with very few cases, recorded more than 10,000 new infections and 390 deaths on Friday. Ho Chi Minh City accounted for 3,500 of those infections.

"People must absolutely stay put, isolate from each other, from house to house, from community to community," Prime Minsiter Pham Minh Chinh said during a meeting Friday with southern provinces hit by the outbreak.

The prime minster also called on migrant workers to stay in the city to avoid spreading the virus as the flee before further restrictions on movement come into effect.

Ho Chi Minh City has had strict coronavirus measures in place since June, including banning gatherings of more than two people in public and only allowing people to leave home for essential matters like buying food or going to work in certain permitted businesses. Under the new measures, people in high risk areas cannot leave home at all.

The city has set up over a dozen of temporary hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients, but the high number of active cases means thousands of patients are not able to be hospitalized. According to the Health Ministry, some 19,000 patients with mild symptoms have been asked to stay at home using medical assistant from teams of mobile doctors in their communities.

In Hanoi, the capital, authorities on Friday extended the virus containment measures for another two weeks. People there are required to stay at home and are allowed to go shop for food three times a week using allocated coupons.

Vietnam managed to keep the infection rate relatively low up until April and until then had only recorded 35 deaths. Since August, it has reported average of more than 300 deaths daily.