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Hanoi proposes to temporary close pedestrian zone over COVID-19 fears

Jasmine Le Jasmine Le

lehang1997hanu@gmail.com

February 05, 2021 | 09:27

With new nCoV-positive cases scattered around the city within days, Hanoi authorities are mulling over halting activities in the Walking Street, for the third time, starting February 5 to minimize potential spread of the novel virus.

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The Walking Street has been left deserted in recent days (Photo: VNE)

Vice-Chairman of the Hoan Kiem District People's Committee Dinh Hong Phong initiated the proposal at the meeting of Hanoi’s of the Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention on February 3. Phong emphasized the temporary closure would help curb the imminent thread of the pandemic, adding that the number of pedestrians at the Walking Streets in recent weekends stayed low.

“In the past week, the pedestrian street was still opened under the close management of the related force. However, the number of people coming here is small, only a few dozen. If the street continues to be operating, people from different places would flock here, which is difficult for pandemic control works", Phong was quoted as saying.

The vice Chairman also proposed if firework displays were to be performed at Hoan Kiem Lake, there would be no people allowed to enter the area, except for the organizers.

This is the third time Hanoi’s Walking Street put under a halt since the pandemic first broke out in Vietnam last year. Earlier last August 21 and February, Hanoi also closed the pedestrian streets, in an effort to stamp out the novel virus.

The pedestrian streets often attract a large number of people, which poses high risks for COVID-19 spreading without appropriate preventive measures, according to Vietnamnet.

The pedestrian street around Hoan Kiem Lake, for example, draws an average of around 3,000-5,000 visitors during the day and 15,000-20,000 at night.

The COVID-19 patient recorded on January 28 broke the streak of 163 days without any community infections in the city. As of February 4, its tally since the recurrence of the virus hits 28.

The municipal Party Committee has earlier decided to narrow down firework display scale to solely one site from 30 as previously scheduled. Hanoi is seeking a suitable venue for a high-altitude firework performance on Lunar New Year’s Eve. There would be no large gatherings but the organizers around the venue as usual, with anti-pandemic measures strictly applied. The firework show will be live-broadcast on national television channels.

The municipal authorities have also called on people to avoid large gatherings and cancel year-end parties amid rising fears of the latest outbreak.

All schools within the city are closed starting February 1. Entertainment services such as karaoke, bar, pubs, game, and Internet cafes were also put under temporary shutdown over coronavirus fears.

Hanoi is less than two hours from Hai Duong, currently the biggest hotspot with 277 cases, and a major transport link to northern localities, VNE said.

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This marks the third time the Walking Street closed due to COVID-19 (Photo: Vietnam Plus)

On February 4, 19 locally-transmitted and one imported COVID-19 cases were detected from 6 am to 6 pm on February 3, according to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control. Of the 19 community infection cases, 14 are in the northern province of Hai Duong, four in northern Quang Ninh province, and one in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. Most of the cases were linked to the latest outbreaks in Hai Duong and Gia Lai.

Northern Hai Duong Province registered 37 more Covid-19 cases Thursday morning, raising Vietnam's domestic tally to 366 since community transmission resurfaced a week ago. All of the patients are workers at an industrial park in Chi Linh Town where the first case of Hai Duong and also one of the first cases of the ongoing community outbreak was detected.

With the new confirmed cases, Vietnam has registered 366 domestic Covid-19 cases in 10 cities and provinces ever since infections returned to the community on January 28. Hai Duong now has 277 cases, Quang Ninh 42, Hanoi 21, Gia Lai 14, Binh Duong four, Bac Ninh three, Hoa Binh two, HCMC, Hai Phong, and Bac Giang one each. The nation has so far recorded 1,948 Covid-19 patients and 449 are active.

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Jasmine Le