HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam's prime minister on Monday asked major cities to prepare for possible lockdowns to stop the spread of coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country reached nearly 200.
"Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have to review and update plans to battle the virus, and have to stand ready for city lockdown scenarios," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in a statement.
"Vietnam has entered the pandemic's peak period, major cities have to speed up and take advantage of each hour and minute to carry out defined measures," Phuc said.
The Vietnamese government has ordered a halt on inbound flights, cut domestic flights, stopped public gatherings and temporarily shut down non-essential services until April 15 at the earliest.
It has also launched an aggressive quarantine and contact-tracing programme to curb the spread of the virus after an influx of infections brought in by Vietnamese citizens escaping outbreaks elsewhere and by foreign visitors.
Vietnam has confirmed 194 infections but has had no reported deaths, according to the health ministry. More than 75,000 people are in quarantine. The country aims to keep the number of infections under 1,000.
(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by James Pearson and Richard Pullin)