Vietnam hopes to contain a new spread of COVID-19 by testing all residents of Ho Chi Minh City and implementing new social distancing measures.
These efforts come after the emergence of a new focus linked to a religious center.
Vietnam has been relatively successful in controlling the virus, but the number of cases has risen over the past few weeks.
Two days ago, officials warned of a new “extremely dangerous” strain that had been discovered in the country.
The government says the new strain combines traits of two strains that were first discovered in India and Britain, and is easily transmitted through the air.
In total, Vietnam has recorded just over 7,000 cases and 47 deaths, but the recent spike accounts for more than half of the total number of cases.
The most recent outbreak of the disease in Ho Chi Minh City is centered around a Christian mission that has seen at least 125 cases of infection, and represents most of the cases in the city.
Checks have already been carried out for those living in the vicinity of the complex, which is currently in a state of closure.
Officials are now planning tests for the rest of Ho Chi Minh City’s 13 million residents.
It will take the authorities more than four months to complete, with an average of 100,000 people examined per day.
In addition to the checks, officials also announced new social distancing measures across the city for 15 days, starting on May 31.
Shops and restaurants were closed, and religious activities were suspended.
“All events that gather more than 10 people in public places are banned at the city level, but the city is considering reducing the number of people to only five,” the government said.
When the virus first spread outside China in early 2020, Vietnam acted quickly and decisively, closing its borders to almost all travelers except for returning citizens.
Then, it isolated and examined everyone who entered the country. It has also conducted extensive tracking and checking.
The government is under pressure to ramp up vaccinations to prevent the virus from spreading again.
More than 1 million people – or 1% of the population – have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far.