Vietnam not discriminate against religions in COVID-19 fight: official hinh anh 1A ceremony of religious followers (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Regarding the probe recently launched into “Hoi thanh truyen giao Phuc Hung” (Revival Ekklesia Mission) for “spreading dangerous infectious diseases in humans”, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Vu Chien Thang said every citizen is equal before the law, and anyone who commits violation of the law will be dealt with.

As of June 1 evening, 219 cases of COVID-19 linked with the Revival Ekklesia Mission in Ho Chi Minh City had been recorded, according to the city’s centre for disease control.

Authorities have traced more than 2,500 people directly meeting the infected cases (F1) and about 61,000 others with close contact with these F1s in 20 of the 22 districts in HCM City, along with 11 other localities nationwide.

As this congregation is also connected with two divisions and six congregations of three other major Protestant organisations in HCM City and some other provinces, the number of infection cases is forecast to keep increasing in the time ahead.

Given the scale of the transmission, the HCM City police decided to launch an investigation into the charge of “spreading dangerous infectious diseases in humans”.

The launch of the probe is necessary and completely legal since several persons in the case were found to have not complied with disease prevention and control measures regulated by the State such as keeping physical distancing, making health declarations, or taking tests.

Commenting on this issue, Deputy Minister Thang affirmed that every citizen, be they cadres, Party members, religious dignitaries or secular persons, is equal before the law and anyone who commits violations of law will be dealt with.

He noted that recently, Vietnam has punished and dismissed many officials for violating anti-pandemic rules, showing the strictness of and all persons’ equality before the law.

All locations where COVID-19 infections are found, be they State agencies’ headquarters, civilian housing, and places of religious organisations, must be sealed off in accordance with regulations for the sake of public health.

Thang said the investigation into the infection cluster at the Revival Ekklesia Mission targets the act of violating the law on public health, but not the religious organisation itself.

He stressed that there is no such thing as the administration discriminates against or creates difficulties for religious activities.

The first and foremost goal is to protect the health of people and the community, including religious followers, he added.

According to the deputy minister, in May alone, four religious meetings with large numbers of participants were organised at the house of the leader of the Revival Ekklesia Mission in HCM City, within an area of just 50 square metres, which did not comply with anti-pandemic measures. As a result, 40 of the 55 followers participating in the meetings at this location have been infected with COVID-19, according to the official.

At a working session between Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh and the HCM City People’s Committee on June 1, Deputy Minister Thang proposed local authorities suspend activities of the Revival Ekklesia Mission to serve the investigation and the containment of pandemic transmission.

He also asked authorities, especially those at the grassroots level, to intensify inspection of local places of worship and meet with religious dignitaries to strengthen the adherence to anti-pandemic measures./.