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Vietnam to evacuate 80,000 people from Danang after virus outbreak

  • Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen

    Reuters

Hanoi, Vietnam   /   Mon, July 27, 2020   /   06:30 pm
Vietnam to evacuate 80,000 people from Danang after virus outbreak Tourists wear protective masks as they wait to check-in for departure at Da Nang Airport, Vietnam July 26, 2020.Three residents were tested positive for the COVID-19 during the weekend in Da Nang city. (VNA/Reuters/Tran Le Lam)

Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, from the central tourism hot spot of Danang after three residents tested positive for the coronavirus at the weekend, the government said on Monday.

The Southeast Asian country is back on high alert after authorities on Saturday confirmed the first community infections since April, and another three cases on Sunday, all in or around Danang.

Vietnam's benchmark stock index closed down 5.3% on Monday to 785.17, the lowest since May 6, extending a decline of 3.2% on Friday.

The evacuation will take at least four days with domestic airlines operating approximately 100 flights daily from Danang to 11 Vietnamese cities, the government said in a statement.

Vietnam has also reintroduced social distancing measures in Danang. By imposing strict quarantine measures and carrying out an aggressive and widespread testing program during the pandemic, Vietnam has kept its total tally of reported infections to just 420, with no deaths.

Vietnam is still closed to foreign tourism, but there had been a surge in domestic travellers looking to take advantage of discounted flights and holiday packages to local resorts.

Those returning from Danang to other parts of the country would have to quarantine at home for 14 days, the health ministry said.

Following the discovery of the new cases, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered police to step up a crackdown on illegal immigration to the country.

State media on Sunday said police in Danang 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.

Authorities have not officially linked the new cases in Danang to illegal immigration.

The government said in a separate statement on Monday that authorities in Ha Giang province, which borders China, had caught more than 1,500 people illegally crossing into the province since May.

Most of those caught were Vietnamese citizens, the statement said, and were quarantined.