Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Jul 27 (efe-epa).- Vietnam has evacuated tens of thousands of people and reimposed disease-prevention restrictions in Da Nang after 15 coronavirus cases were confirmed in the central coastal city, the first locally transmitted cases since April.
In the last 99 days, the Asian country, which has been widely praised for its swift and decisive preventive action since the start of the pandemic in January, had only recorded imported cases.
The first case of the new outbreak was a 57-year-old man who was in critical condition. Three others were confirmed on Sunday, a 61-year-old man who is on a respirator, a 17-year-old boy who had visited Da Nang from the neighbouring Quang Ngai province, and a 71-year-old woman who was admitted into hospital with chest pains.
After confirming the four cases between Friday and Sunday, authorities reported 11 other people had tested positive for coronavirus on Monday, nine of them, including four health workers, linked to a Da Nang hospital which was sealed off on Friday.
Measures to stem the spread of coronavirus, including the mandatory use of masks in public, the closure of non-essential businesses and a ban of gatherings of more than thirty people, have been reimposed in the city.
The government in Hanoi announced on Monday the evacuation of 80,000 people, mostly Vietnamese domestic tourists, to their hometowns, an operation that will take at least four days to complete with about 100 daily flights to 11 cities across the country.
These will be the only flights in and out of Da Nang, as authorities have cancelled all commercial flights, a severe blow to one of the country’s most popular tourist areas. With international travel and foreign visitors banned, the country had so far been able to mitigate the economic damage to the sector by salvaging the summer season through the promotion of domestic tourism during the school holidays, which until now had managed to salvage the summer season thanks to domestic tourism during the school holidays.
Outside of Da Nang, the government has also recommended the use of masks, and some workplaces and hospitals have reactivated safety protocols, while some leisure events, such as the national football league, were suspended on Sunday.
The origin of the new outbreak has puzzled disease experts and trackers, as the country’s borders have been closed since March 23, with the exception of repatriated Vietnamese and foreign expert workers who have to undergo coronavirus tests and undergo a two-week quarantine.
One of the hypotheses is the illegal entry of Chinese citizens, leading to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to order that border controls be tightened.
On Sunday, police arrested an individual involved in a network of illegal trafficking of Chinese citizens to Vietnam.
Vietnamese authorities have been praised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international bodies for their swift response to the pandemic since the end of January, when the country took the first containment measures, such as the cancellation of air connections with China and the closure of schools, as well as clear and effective public information campaigns.
The country is planning to carry out more than 10,000 tests in the coming days.
Some of the measures that have lead to the successful containment of coronavirus, which has led the country to report only 420 cases and no deaths, is the effectiveness of their tracking teams, systematic testing on anyone who has been in contact with an infected person and the selective confinement in areas where several infections had been confirmed. EFE/EPA