Plan to ban people from leaving their homes triggers panic buying in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam will deploy troops in the city to enforce the lockdown and deliver food supplies to citizens. - Reuters

HANOI, Aug 21 (Reuters): Vietnam's plan to prohibit residents of Ho Chi Minh City from leaving their homes from Monday has triggered panic buying in the epicentre of its worst coronavirus outbreak.

The scramble for purchases is hurting efforts in the nation's largest city to contain the spiralling Covid-19 outbreak, said the official Vietnam News Agency.

Long queues of people were seen outside markets and shelves at supermarkets in Ho Chi Minh City were emptying on Saturday, witnesses and state media said.

"It's looking chaotic," said a person who gave her name only as Nguyen in the city's District 2.

"Too many people are rushing out to buy food and essential stuff for their hard days ahead," she told Reuters. "I have managed to by some food, as I don't want to die from hunger before dying from coronavirus."

Vietnam said on Friday it would also deploy troops in the city to enforce the lockdown and deliver food supplies to citizens, as the city turns to drastic measures to slow a spiralling rate of coronavirus deaths.

Vietnam has recorded 323,000 coronavirus infections and 7,540 deaths, with Ho Chi Minh City accounting for more than half of the cases and 80% of the fatalities, according to the health ministry.

"The city is ready with measures to supply food and essential goods for the residents," Phan Van Mai, deputy head of the city's coronavirus task force was quoted as saying.

Vietnam's ruling Communist Party on Friday announced a decision to replace Nguyen Thanh Phong as chairman of the city's People's Committee. It did not give a reason, but analysts cited his poor handling of the outbreak. - Reuters

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