Vietnam back on COVID-19 alert after first local infection in 3 months

Vietnam back on COVID-19 alert after first local infection in 3 months

FILE PHOTO: A health worker sprays disinfectant inside a bus to protect from the recent coronavirus
A health worker sprays disinfectant inside a bus to protect from the recent coronavirus outbreak, at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb 21, 2020. (File photo: REUTERS/Kham)

HANOI: Vietnam was back on high alert for the novel coronavirus on Saturday (Jul 25) after medical officials in the central city of Danang detected what appears to be the first local COVID-19 case in the Southeast Asian country for three months.

Thanks to strict quarantine measures and an aggressive and widespread testing programme, Vietnam has kept its virus total to an impressively low 415 cases, and had reported no locally transmitted infections for 100 days.

Vietnam has reported no deaths from the virus.

READ: Commentary: Vietnam is emerging a lot stronger from this coronavirus outbreak

But on Friday, Vietnam's health ministry said in a statement that a 57-year-old man from Danang, a popular tourist hotspot, had tested positive for the virus, prompting the isolation of 50 people he came in contact with.

The ministry said 103 people connected to the patient were tested for the virus but all returned negative results.

The government said on Saturday a new test had confirmed the man's infection, bringing the total number of cases in Vietnam to 416.

It did not say how the man contracted the virus, but said he had not left Danang for nearly a month. He was initially diagnosed with pneumonia.

The case comes at a time when Vietnam was about to resume international commercial flights and as domestic tourism is surging.

Late on Friday, authorities in Hanoi reinstated a recommendation to wear masks in public places as Vietnam's benchmark VN Index closed down 3.22 per cent.

The country's ban on international commercial flights is still in place, but foreign experts and skilled workers have been able to enter Vietnam throughout the pandemic provided they undergo mandatory centralised quarantine.

READ: Coronavirus-free UK pilot, symbol of Vietnam's pandemic success, to return home

Of the nearly 150 cases reported over the past three months, all were imported and the people quarantined on arrival. Earlier this week, Vietnam said it would repatriate around 130 Vietnamese citizens infected with the virus from Equatorial Guinea.

In March, Danang reported six local cases of the coronavirus as the US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt conducted a port visit to the city.

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Source: Reuters/dv

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