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Asia Minute: Vietnam’s Coronavirus Challenge

AP Photo/ Luke Groves
Traffic is quiet following a lockdown order in Da Nang, Vietnam, on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Vietnam on Tuesday locked down its third-largest city for two weeks after more than a dozen cases of COVID-19 were found in a hospital.

Areas that have been the most successful in dealing with the coronavirus have generally acted quickly to fight it. That’s been the case in Vietnam — which is facing a new challenge this week.

Authorities in Vietnam are in the process of moving some 80,000 visitors out of the central coastal city of Da Nang. The government announced that evacuation is taking place because of an outbreak of locally transmitted coronavirus cases.

The entire country has reported a little more than 400 cases since January with no deaths. It did social distancing early, and aggressive contact tracing.

But last week, a 57-year old man tested positive for COVID-19 in Da Nang. Over the weekend, three new cases were reported. On Monday, eleven more were confirmed. Public health officials say it’s the first case of community spread of the virus in the country since April.

Da Nang is a port city, an important industrial location for central Vietnam and home to several universities. It’s also a popular tourist destination. Vietnam began encouraging domestic travel back in the spring as part of a gradual economic re-opening.

The country suspended international arrivals in March — any exemptions have been held to strict quarantine rules.

For the next two weeks, Da Nang will be closed to domestic travelers. Airlines are adding flights to get current visitors out of the city and fly them home — a process government officials say will take about four days.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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