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Citizens of Times City urban complex in Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi flock to a local supermarket to stock up on necessities, March 6, 2020. (Photo: VnExpress/Giang Huy)
Vuong Dinh Hue stressed at an emergency meeting called Saturday by the Hanoi People’s Committee that the city has ample supplies to be able to meet its residents’ needs.
Locals were flocking to supermarkets en-masse to hoard up on necessities, Hue said. The rush followed confirmation Friday night of the nation’s 17th COVID-19 infection and the first in the capital city - a 26-year-old woman returning from Europe.
"I have discussed with a leader of a major supermarket chain in Hanoi, and this person guarantees that there is enough to meet people’s demand," Hue said.
Hanoi can also source supplies from outside supermarkets, he added.
"If too many people go shopping without taking appropriate safety measures, it increases infection chances. It's right for people to worry but one should respond with concrete actions like protecting families' health and informing authorities of abnormal health statuses," Hue said.
Supermarket and convenience store sales in the capital increased 40-50 percent within Friday night and Saturday morning, almost immediately after news of Hanoi's first COVID-19 case broke, said the Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade.
It has directed supermarkets, stores and other units not to increase prices or withhold goods. Current good shortage situations are only temporary, the department assured.
The capital has around 455 markets, 26 department stores, 142 supermarkets, 1,800 convenience stores, the department said.
Nguyen Hong Nhung, the 26-year-old woman, had left Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport on February 15 to visit family members living in London, England. Three days later, she traveled from London to Milan City, in the province of Lombardy, Italy, and returned to London on February 20.
On February 25, she traveled from London to Paris to visit her sister. She contracted a cough on February 29, but did not get it checked.
On March 1, she reportedly felt body pain and fatigue, but it was unclear if she had a fever. The same day, she boarded flight VN0054 of Vietnam Airlines from London and landed in Hanoi at 4:30 a.m. on March 2. She did not have a fever then.
After completing entry procedures, the patient was allowed to drive a family car home to Truc Bach Street in Ba Dinh District’s Truc Bach Ward. Later, she developed a mild fever and coughed a lot, and was admitted to Hong Ngoc Hospital in Ba Dinh District Thursday. The very same day, she was transferred to the Central Hospital for Tropical Diseases where she tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
33 people were in close contact with Patient 17, including several family members, while 90 others had indirect contact, said director Nguyen Khac Hien of the Hanoi Department of Health. All of them have been quarantined and monitored. 25 of them has tested negative for the virus as of Saturday morning, he added.
Authorities are also trying to look for 217 passengers and crew members of the VN0054 flight, which the patient was on board.
The global death toll has reached nearly 3,600 in 102 countries and territories, mostly in mainland China (3,097), followed by Italy (233), Iran (145) and South Korea (50).
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