HCMC begins random Covid-19 tests in restaurants

Medical workers in HCMC are taking samples from customers and workers at restaurants to test for the new coronavirus.

On Monday evening diners at a restaurant on Phan Van Tri Street in HCMC's Binh Thanh District were asked to give samples for random testing for Covid-19 and their address and phone number.

Vietnam, Vietnam Covid-19, Vietnam Covid-19 test, HCMC mass testing, restaurants

Medics arrive at a restaurant on Phan Van Tri Street in HCMC's Binh Thanh District to collect random samples from guests for Covid-19 testing on February 22, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van.

One customer, Tuong, 30, said "this is actually a good move to contain infection spread" and he did not feel annoyed at being interrupted during his meal.

Several restaurant workers were also asked for samples.

Its manager said the restaurant has limited the number of customers to 25 to ensure social distancing.

Some diners at another restaurant nearby walked away when approached by the medical delegation, but police officers forced them to remain.

A group of six diners appeared to be uncomfortable but after being told why the test was necessary, they complied.

In two hours the delegation took more than 30 samples from various restaurants in the district's Ward 11, and the results will arrive in 24 hours.

"In case anyone is found positive, we will immediately identify the area and carry out contact tracing to quell the outbreak," Trieu Thi Bich Huyen, the ward's vice chairwoman, promised.

The random tests would be done at restaurants in all 20 wards of the district until the end of next month, and any person or restaurant found violating pandemic prevention regulations would be penalized, she added.

Vietnam, Vietnam Covid-19, Vietnam Covid-19 test, HCMC mass testing, restaurants

A medical worker takes a nose swab from a man who dines at a restaurant in HCMC's Binh Thanh District, February 22, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van.

The tests at dining facilities are part of a random mass testing program the HCMC Disease Control Center (HCDC) began at the end of the Lunar New Year holidays on February 16.

The seven-day Tet break saw people all over the country return home to their extended family to celebrate the arrival of the new year, increasing the chances of the disease's spread.

In the past week the HCDC has taken more than 4,800 random samples at airports, bus stations and train stations, and almost 3,800 have proven negative so far and the remaining results are still awaited.

HCMC suspended all non-essential services, shutting down bars, karaoke parlors, cinemas and discotheques, and banned religious events on February 9 after 31 Covid cases were diagnosed.

Restaurants with over 30 covers were told to close while smaller ones need to ensure there are not more than 10 people per table and there is a minimum distance of 1.5 m between guests.

Since January 28, when community transmission returned to Vietnam after almost two months, the city has found 36 cases in eight districts. Of them, 35 were linked to the outbreak at its Tan Son Nhat airport, whose origin has yet to be identified, and the other to Hai Duong, the country’s epicenter.

The latest wave, which began in the northern Hai Duong and Quang Ninh provinces, has spread to 13 cities and provinces.

HCMC has found no new cases in the last 11 days.

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