A propaganda poster on the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 appears on a wall as a man smokes a cigarette along a street in Hanoi on April 29, 2020.
Manan Vatsyayana | AFP | Pictures of Getty
Vietnam, once praised for its success in containing the coronavirus outbreak, is now struggling with a resurgence in cases and has warned that the disease could spread wider across the country.
The Southeast Asian country ̵1; which shares a border with China, where the virus first came from – has not recorded any locally transmitted cases for more than three months before a 57-year-old resident of the city Danang coastal plant was tested for coronavirus disease on Saturday, the Vietnamese government said.
The patient has not had a history of traveling domestically or internationally over the past month, the government said. But Reuters reported that tens of thousands of domestic tourists were on vacation in the coastal city.
Authorities are preparing to evacuate about 80,000 tourists in Danang. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned on Wednesday that every province and city in the country is at risk of further infections, Reuters reported, citing a state-run Vietnam Television broadcaster.
To be clear, the total 450 confirmed cases reported in Vietnam as of Wednesday remain relatively small for a nation with a population of about 97 million. The country also did not record any coronavirus-related deaths.
But the renewed outbreak in Vietnam highlights the difficulties governments face in including the rapidly spreading disease. That is the case even for a country that has been internationally recognized as a potential model for other developing countries in the management of the coronavirus outbreak.
Vietnamese government online journal VGP said on Monday that preliminary epidemiological investigations have revealed that some of the new cases found in Danang were linked to three hospitals in the city. Genome analysis also showed that “this is a new type of Covid-19, which is more infectious,” said Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long.
Authorities tightened containment measures in Danang, such as intensifying contact tracking, limiting crowd sizes and stopping non-essential services. Flights to and from the city were temporarily suspended.
On Wednesday, Vietnam reported new cases in its two largest cities – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – that have been attributed to people visiting Danang in the past few weeks.
Reuters, which quoted city authorities, reported that about 18,000 people who visited Danang went back to Ho Chi Minh City and another 21,000 went home to Hanoi.
Again in Asia
Vietnam is not the only Asian country or territory facing a new leap in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Wednesday warned that the city is at the heart of a large-scale outbreak that could overload its health care facilities and cost her life. Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, had succeeded before it had its outbreak – which allowed it to avoid lock-in.
But the Hong Kong government imposed stricter measures this week.
Taiwan, also seen as a success story containing the virus, said on Tuesday it was investigating its first possible case of its local transmission in more than a month, Reuters reported. A Thai immigrant worker – who arrived on the island in January – tested positive for the disease just days after returning to Thailand, according to the report.
– CNBC’s Abigail Ng contributed to this report