Vietnam says origin of Danang outbreak hard to track as COVID-19 cases rise

Vietnam says origin of Danang outbreak hard to track as COVID-19 cases rise

Rapid testing center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside Hanoi
FILE PHOTO: A medical specialist wearing a protective suit holds a blood specimen of a traveller who returned from Da Nang city at a rapid testing center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside Hanoi, Vietnam July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI: Vietnamese authorities said on Sunday (Aug 2) they were finding it hard to track the origin of a fresh coronavirus outbreak that began in the central city of Danang and has infected around 200 people in recent weeks.

"In Danang, there are many sources of virus, and there are still many infections out there in the community," a government statement said of the city, a popular tourist hotspot with a population of 1.1 million.

The country reported 34 infections on Sunday, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases to 620. The death toll rose by two to five, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

READ: COVID-19 surges in Asia bring warnings over complacency

READ: Vietnam says up to 800,000 left COVID-19 epicentre Danang since Jul 1

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the strain of the virus detected in the new outbreak is a more contagious one.

He said with the new strain, each infected person may infect about five to six people compared to 1.8 to 2.2 people in the previous period.

Authorities have taken a series of "unprecedented measures" to fight the outbreak in Danang, including the mobilisation of several hundred military school students to help with contact tracing and collecting test samples, the government said in its statement.

Dr Kidong Park, the World Health Organization's representative in Vietnam, told Reuters the country had been preparing for the possibility of wider community transmission, after the country reported its first case in January.

"The government has always been determined to ensure that its people are protected from COVID-19 by keeping the country’s relatively low number of cases and controlling the transmission within the community," Park said in an emailed statement.

Authorities said on Saturday they plan to test Danang's entire population of 1.1 million people for COVID-19. 

The Health Ministry said that up to 800,000 visitors to Danang have left for other parts of the country since Jul 1, adding that more than 41,000 people have visited three hospitals in the city since.

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Source: Reuters