A propaganda poster can be seen on the wall to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when a man smoked a cigarette on Hanoi Street in 2020. April 29
Mananas Vatsyajana | AFP | Getty images
Vietnam, once praised for its success in halting an outbreak of coronavirus, is now battling a resurgence and warns that the disease could spread across the country.
In a Southeast Asian country sharing a border with China, where the virus first appeared, no locally transmitted cases were recorded for more than three months until a 57-year-old resident of the central coastal city of Danang tested positive. coronavirus disease on Saturday, the Vietnamese government said.
The government said the patient had no domestic or international travel history in the past month. But Reuters reported that tens of thousands of local tourists were on holiday in the seaside town.
Authorities are preparing to evacuate about 80,000 tourists from Danang. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned on Wednesday that there was a risk of more infections in every province and city in the country, Reuters reported, citing state broadcaster Vietnamese television.
Clearly, the total of 450 confirmed cases reported in Vietnam on Wednesday is relatively small for a nation with a population of about 97 million. No coronavirus-related deaths have also been reported in the country.
However, the renewed outbreak in Vietnam further highlights the challenges governments face in halting the rapidly spreading disease. This is true even of a country that has been recognized internationally as a possible example for other developing countries to manage a coronavirus outbreak.
The Vietnamese government’s online newspaper VGP reported on Monday that preliminary epidemiological studies have shown that some of the new cases identified in Danange have involved three city hospitals. Genome analysis also revealed that “this is a new type of Covid-19 that is more contagious,” said acting health minister Nguyen Thanh Long.
Authorities have tightened restrictive measures in Danange, such as increased contact tracking, limited crowd size and suspended non-essential services. Flights to and from the city were also suspended.
On Wednesday, Vietnam reported new cases in two of its major cities – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – that have been attributed to people who have visited Danang in the past few weeks.
Reuters quoted city officials as saying that about 18,000 people had visited Danang and returned to Ho Chi Minh City, and another 21,000 had returned home to Hanoi.
Resurrection in Asia
Vietnam is not the only Asian country or territory where the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is re-emerging.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lama warned on Wednesday that the city was at the end of a large-scale outbreak that could overload its health facilities and cost lives. Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, has previously managed to stop its outbreak, avoiding blockade.
However, the Hong Kong government introduced tougher measures this week.
Taiwan, which is also considered a history of successful virus infection, said on Tuesday it was investigating the first possible locally transmitted case in more than a month, Reuters reported. According to the report, a Thai migrant worker who arrived on the island in January had a positive assessment of the illness a few days after returning to Thailand.
– CNBC Abigail Ng contributed to this report