People in Pham Nguc Lao ward called on to implement the decision (Photo:

The closure will affect almost 700 establishments as the city takes measures to prevent and control the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The suspension order was signed on March 14th evening by HCMC's standing vice chairman Le Thanh Liem following proposals by the city's culture and health departments as well as recommendations by the Steering Committee on the prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic.

HCMC's decision came shortly after a similar one issued by District 1 chairman Nguyen Van Dung, which required all movie theaters, massage parlors, karaoke parlors, bars, beer clubs and discos in the district, as well as hotels and restaurants that also provide these services, to stop operating from 6 pm on March 14th.

Dung told VnExpress that his district had made the decision ahead of the city-wide one as a large amount of such establishments are concentrated in District 1.

Additionally, the district has a large population with many tourist accommodation establishments, so the risk of the disease spreading was very high.

As of March 14th evening, HCMC had recorded four COVID-19 patients, including a 24-year-old woman returning from London, two Saigon residents who’d come into contact with a patient from central Binh Thuan Province, and a 53-year-old Czech citizen who had come into contact with some Italian nationals in his home country before arriving in HCMC on March 10th.

Overall, Vietnam has confirmed 53 COVID-19 cases so far, including 16 who’d been discharged weeks ago. The nation had gone for 22 days without a new infection before a 26-year-old woman returning from London March 2nd tested positive for the novel coronavirus on March 6th.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to 151 countries and territories around the world, with the death toll climbing to over 5,800./.