Vietnam ready to use 'full force' to arrest new coronavirus wave after registering first linked case

Vietnam ready to use 'full force' to arrest new coronavirus wave after registering first linked case

FILE PHOTO: Closed shops are seen on an empty Hang Duong street which was previously one of the mos
FILE PHOTO: Closed shops are seen on an empty Hang Duong street which was previously one of the most busy streets during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hanoi, Vietnam April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo

HANOI: Vietnam's health ministry on Thursday (Jul 30) reported nine new locally transmitted coronavirus cases linked to the Danang outbreak, taking total infections to 42 since the virus resurfaced at the weekend. 

Of the nine new cases, eight people are from Danang and one is from the capital Hanoi, the health ministry said a statement. The new virus wave has spread to six Vietnamese cities and provinces in six days.

Vietnam has registered a total of 459 cases, with no deaths, the statement said. More than 81,000 people in Vietnam are currently undergoing quarantine, up from 12,000 people on Monday.

READ: Vietnam says every city, province now at risk of COVID-19 infection

Hanoi's ruling body on Thursday said it will conduct mass testing for 21,000 people who recently returned from the central city of Danang, as authorities race to contain the first domestic outbreak in the country since April.

The mass testing will take place from Thursday to Saturday, using rapid test kits, the city's administration said in a statement. Hanoi registered its first case of COVID-19 linked to the Danang outbreak. 

Vietnam told tens of thousands of people who visited the central city to report to disease control centres on Thursday.

The health ministry sent text messages to all mobile phone users among the country's 95 million people urging anyone who visited Danang from Jul 1 to come forward.

Hanoi's ruling body on Thursday said mass testing would be carried out until Saturday among thousands of residents who recently returned from Danang.

With more than 95 million people, Vietnam is the most populous country in the world to have recorded no deaths from the virus, and until now no locally transmitted infections had been reported for months.

That record is now under threat following an outbreak last weekend in Danang, where tens of thousands of domestic tourists were vacationing thanks to discounted travel deals.

The response to the Danang outbreak is in line with a centralised quarantine programme and aggressive contact-tracing system that has seen Vietnam lauded for keeping its coronavirus tally to just a few hundred cases, with no fatalities.

READ: Vietnam suspends flights to and from Danang due to COVID-19 outbreak

Hanoi on Wednesday ordered bars and pubs to shut and banned large gatherings, after registering its first case of COVID-19 on Wednesday linked to the Danang outbreak.

"We have to act now and act fast. All large gatherings will be banned until further notice," the head of the city's administration, Nguyen Duc Chung, said in a statement on the city's website.

"Over 21,000 people returned to Hanoi from Danang will be closely monitored and will undergo rapid testing," he said.

"We have to use full force to test all 21,063 returnees. All must be done in three days."

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has told tourist areas to step up vigilance and imposed a strict lockdown in Danang, where flights have been halted for 15 days.

The coastal city has been inundated with visitors taking advantage of promotions to revitalise a tourism sector hurt by border closures and international flight bans designed to keep the virus out.

The current wave is traced to Danang, but the source is unclear. The health ministry said one case, an American, had reported symptoms as far back as Jun 26.

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Source: Reuters