World

Vietnam says every city, province now at risk of infection

Tourist hubs had to step up vigilance and Danang must go under strict lockdown

HANOI: Vietnam, virus-free for months, was bracing for another wave of infections yesterday after state media reported four new cases in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the Central Highlands all linked to a recent outbreak in the central city of Danang.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the current wave of infections was different to a second wave Vietnam fought in March, and every province and city in the country was at risk, state broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) reported.

Thanks to a centralised quarantine programme and an aggressive contact-tracing system, Vietnam had managed to keep its coronavirus tally to just 450 cases, despite sharing a border with China.

Mr Phuc said tourist hubs throughout the country had to step up vigilance and that Danang must go under "strict lockdown", VTV said.

Just about 400 tourists remain in Danang, officials told The Straits Times yesterday, after the government evacuated tens of thousands of tourists there ahead of a two-week long lockdown.

Eight more cases were confirmed in Danang yesterday morning.

In Hanoi, a worker at a pizza restaurant who had recently returned from Danang tested positive and the authorities closed the business for disinfection, state media reported.

Vietnam's Health Ministry confirmed that case late yesterday, as well as two cases in Ho Chi Minh City and another in the Central Highlands.

The source of the infection in Danang, origin of the current wave, remains unclear.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong reported 118 new cases yesterday, including 113 that were locally transmitted, as strict new measures including a restriction of gatherings to two people and a ban on restaurant dining, took effect.

The measures, which are the toughest introduced since the outbreak, are to last for at least a week as leader Carrie Lam warned that the city is on the brink of a large-scale outbreak.

The tally of cases is now 3,002, including 24 deaths.

Over the past five weeks, community outbreaks have been growing at a faster pace than healthcare services can cope with, prompting infectious disease experts to urge people to stay indoors.

The Philippine Health Department yesterday reported 1,874 new infections and 16 deaths.

In a bulletin, it said total deaths have increased to 1,962 while confirmed cases have reached 85,486.

The Philippines said more businesses, however, would be allowed to reopen, including gyms and sports facilities, Internet cafes and pet shops.

Yesterday marked the 15th successive day of 1,000 or more new cases, which has pushed many hospitals to maximum capacity.

The Philippines now has more cases than China with the Health Department reporting that hospitals are already "close to being overwhelmed".

Indonesia reported 2,381 new infections yesterday, taking the total to 104,432. It reported 74 deaths, taking fatalities to 4,975.

China had 101 new cases yesterday, its highest single-day figure in three months, as gyms, bars and museums closed in infection hot spots.

Of the new cases, 98 were domestic infections, mostly in the region of Xinjiang. - THE STRAITS TIMES, REUTERS, AFP

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