Vietnam sees more COVID-19 cases linked to local outbreak, incoming commercial flights suspended

Vietnam sees more COVID-19 cases linked to local outbreak, incoming commercial flights suspended

FILE PHOTO: Vietnam takes steps to prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hanoi
FILE PHOTO: A medical specialist wearing a protective suit collects a swab sample from a traveller who has returned from Da Nang, at a rapid testing center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hanoi, Vietnam August 8, 2020. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo

HANOI: Vietnam reported two more coronavirus cases on Tuesday (Dec 1) linked to a rare domestic infection in its commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City, while the government urged public vigilance and tighter enforcement of health measures.

The Southeast Asian nation is back on high alert after confirming on Monday the country's first community infection in 89 days, prompting the closure of several places in the densely-populated southern city. 

The community case, a 32-year-old man, tested positive after visiting a flight attendant who was undergoing self-quarantine at his home following his return from Japan two weeks ago. The flight attendant tested positive on Saturday, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said.

READ: Vietnam reports 1st locally transmitted COVID-19 case in nearly 3 months

Health authorities ordered 137 people who had been in close contact with the man to stay in a central quarantine facility and shut down an English centre where he works as a teacher, the newspaper said.

"The flight attendant contracted the virus ... then spread it to others during his home-quarantine time," health minister Nguyen Thanh Long said in a government statement, adding that it is the first time such an incident has happened.

"The flight attendant seriously violated quarantine regulations."

Late on Tuesday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Vietnam would suspend all inbound commercial flights following the new outbreak. Flights for some foreign experts who do business in Vietnam had been operating throughout the pandemic.

With its usually strict quarantine and tracking measures, Vietnam has managed to quickly contain its coronavirus outbreaks, allowing it to resume its economic activities earlier than much of Asia.

Vietnam crushed its first wave of coronavirus infections in April and went nearly 100 days without local transmission until the virus remerged in the central tourist city of Danang in July and spread widely, before being contained in a few weeks.

Prime Minister Phuc has asked citizens and authorities to step up measures to guard against the spread of coronavirus, especially ahead of the Communist Party's five-yearly congress.

"There will be many big gathering events ahead the National Congress, our country's biggest political event, we can't let the virus affect us."

Vietnam has registered a total of 1,351 coronavirus cases altogether, with 35 deaths.

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Source: Agencies/gs