Vietnam to extend coronavirus lockdown in 12 provinces for seven days

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HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam will extend its coronavirus lockdown in 12 provinces, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, for seven days, although restrictions will be lifted in some areas outside of the Southeast Asian country’s main cities, the government said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc made the decision to extend the lockdown until April 22 at a meeting on Wednesday, the government said, adding that those 12 provinces were highly prone to the new coronavirus, which has infected 267 people in the country, but no deaths.

“This is a difficult decision as there are opinions to support the extension of the social distancing measures, but there are also opinions calling for the lifting of the measures to revive economic activities,” Phuc said in the statement.

The Southeast Asian country first introduced restriction measure, requiring people to stay home except for emergencies or to buy food and keep at least 2 metres apart, on April 1 to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

The statement said the lockdown could be extended further and that other provinces might also be made subject to the lockdown.

“There must be no mistake that allows the disease to return to the country,” Phuc said.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Alex Richardson