Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Feb 2 (efe-epa).- Millions of Vietnamese children stayed home on Tuesday after the authorities ordered school closures across 22 provinces to stop the spread of Covid-19 following the detection of the biggest coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began in the country.
Vietnam, in the last five days, detected 276 community infections that ended a streak of no local infections detected for almost two months.
The Health Ministry in a statement on Tuesday said the new Covid-19 wave was caused by the so-called British strain of the coronavirus, which is more contagious and has a shorter incubation time.
The ministry reminded people to mandatorily use face masks and a non-compliance could mean “severe punishments.”
The health authorities said they detected one case on Tuesday in Hai Duong province, the epicenter of the new outbreak.
The government has isolated a town in the area and confined some 2,340 employees of a factory after one of them was in direct contact with an infected person.
The outbreak spread to the capital Hanoi, to the central region, and Ho Chi Minh, the most populated city, forcing local authorities to advance school holidays for the Lunar New Year to begin next Friday.
Millions of people travel across the country to sightsee and visit families for the Lunar New Year, Vietnam’s biggest holiday.
Although the number of cases is low compared to other countries, the resurgence of local infections caused a commotion in the country, which had gone 55 days without local transmissions and which has accumulated just 1,850 infections, including 35 deaths since its first case.
The Hanoi authorities announced that they would increase the number of PCR tests in the coming days, with a maximum of 10,000 a day.
The state television, controlled by the Communist Party, earlier warned that citizens must prepare for a scenario of 30,000 cases if the outbreak is not controlled quickly. EFE-EPA