May 11, 2020 / 6:46 AM / 23 days ago

Vietnam reopens schools after easing coronavirus curbs

Kindergarten students clean hands and have their temperatures checked while arriving to their first day of class after the government eased a nationwide lockdown during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hanoi, Vietnam May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) - Authorities at kindergartens and primary schools in Vietnam took children’s temperatures at the gates when they re-opened on Monday from a months-long closure over the coronavirus pandemic, following last week’s partial re-opening of other schools.

With just 288 infections and no deaths, the Southeast Asian nation has seen no community infections for nearly a month, putting it on course to resume activities sooner than most others in the region.

“The teachers told us to use hand sanitizer and not to touch one another at school,” a fifth grade student, Vu Tuan Phong, said outside his primary school in Hanoi.

He and his schoolmates went home at mid-day, as most schools are following a shorter day than before the pandemic.

“Parents, myself included, trust that the government, as well as the school, will take the optimal measures so kids are safe being in school and parents have peace of mind going to work,” said one mother in the capital, Ngoc Anh, 29.

The school re-opening is Vietnam’s latest step in lifting virus curbs, although international commercial flights and dance clubs and karaoke bars remain banned.

Schools for older children reopened partially last week.

“The risk of COVID-19 (in Vietnam) is low now, and that’s a good thing,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said last week. “But we need to stay vigilant.”

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.)

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Additonal reporting by Minh Nguyen; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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