Vietnam is scrambling to evacuate 80,000 people, mostly domestic tourists, from the coastal city of Da Nang after three locals tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend, Sky News reported Monday.
According to state media, a 57-year-old Da Nang resident was diagnosed with coronavirus on Saturday, breaking Vietnam’s streak of 99 days without a new case. Two additional cases were documented over the weekend. On Monday, Vietnam’s health ministry said it had recorded a total of 11 new cases since Saturday, “all linked to a [local] hospital” and including “four healthcare workers.”
In response, government authorities have ordered 80,000 people, mostly visitors to the tourist hotspot, to leave Da Nang as soon as possible.
“The evacuation will take at least four days with domestic airlines operating approximately 100 flights daily from Da Nang to 11 Vietnamese cities,” the government said.
“Those returning from Da Nang to other parts of the country will be required to quarantine at home for 14 days,” the health ministry said.
In March, Vietnam shipped tens of thousands of people returning to the country from abroad to government quarantine camps in an effort to limit the transmission of coronavirus. In mid-February, Vietnamese authorities locked down 10,000 people in villages outside of the capital, Hanoi, for three weeks after a handful of cases were discovered in the rural community. This was the first large-scale coronavirus lockdown documented outside of China, where the Chinese coronavirus originated last year.
According to the report, Vietnam’s health ministry says it “has registered a total of 431 [coronavirus] cases, with no deaths, and claims it has carried out more than 430,000 tests with nearly 12,000 people under quarantine.”
Vietnam remains closed to foreign tourism but has recently witnessed a surge in domestic tourism as local travelers take advantage of cheap flights and discounted travel opportunities during the pandemic.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc “demanded drastic contact-tracing and large-scale testing in Da Nang” on Saturday following the discovery of the country’s first new coronavirus case since April, Sky News reports.
The prime minister also ordered a “prompt investigation and strict punishment of illegal entrants into the country, especially in Da Nang and Quang Nam Province [located directly south of Da Nang]” on Saturday, suggesting that the government suspects illegal immigration may have caused the new outbreak.
“On Sunday, state media said police in Da Nang had arrested a 42-year-old Chinese man it said was the head of a criminal group which helps people illegally enter Vietnam from China,” the news outlet reports.