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Vietnam reports first coronavirus outbreak in two months, 83 infected

HANOI Vietnam recorded its first outbreak in almost two months yesterday, with 83 new cases reported as the authorities began testing tens of thousands of people to contain the spread.

The infections were detected in northern Vietnam, with one cluster linked to a case of the more contagious coronavirus variant first spotted in Britain.

The figure was a new daily record for the country, which has been praised for its handling of the pandemic - recording just over 1,500 cases before the new cluster and only 35 deaths.

The unwelcome jolt came just as Vietnam earned a top three spot in a survey of how well countries around the world have handled the pandemic.

The latest outbreak in the provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh is "more complicated and serious" than anything Vietnam has dealt with before, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said.

"We aim to isolate and fight the outbreak to prevent its spread as quickly as possible."

He said the country should prepare for 30,000 Covid-19 cases and added that the two northern provinces where 83 cases were found should put measures in place to contain the spread and speed up contact tracing.

In Hai Duong province, the cases are thought to be linked to a factory worker who tested positive for the virus when she landed in the Japanese city of Osaka.

She was found to have the British variant.

The town where the factory is located has been closed off, while medical workers are rushing to test tens of thousands of people in the area.

AIRPORT

In Quang Ninh, which is on the border with China, one of those infected is a security official at Van Don International Airport, where passengers have been arriving before being sent into mandatory quarantine.

The airport has been shut while passenger vehicles are banned from leaving or entering the province.

The outbreak comes at a sensitive time for Vietnam. Its twice-in-a-decade Communist Party congress began on Tuesday to select new leadership.

A long Chinese New Year break will follow next month, when millions of people are expected to travel to see their families.

The last recorded community transmission was last month. - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD