Vietnam back on coronavirus alert after first local infection in three months

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam was again on high alert for the novel coronavirus on Saturday after medical officials in downtown Danang discovered the first locally transmitted case in three months.

FILE PHOTO: A donor carries rice sacks to distribute to poor people during the corona virus on April 16, 2020 in Hanoi, Vietnam. REUTERS / Kham / File Photo

Thanks to strict quarantine measures and an aggressive and widespread test program, the Southeast Asian country has kept its virus total to an impressively low 415 cases and reported no locally transmitted infections for 100 days.

Vietnam has reported no deaths from the virus.

But on Friday, the health ministry said a 57-year-old man from Danang, a tourist hotspot, tested positive, which resulted in the isolation of 50 people he had come into contact with.

The ministry said 103 people associated with the patient had been tested for the virus, but all had negative results.

The government said on Saturday that a new test confirmed the man's infection and increased the total number of cases in Vietnam to 416.

It was not clear how the man was infected with the virus, but that he had not left Danang for almost a month. He was initially diagnosed with pneumonia.

The case comes at a time when Vietnam is about to resume international commercial flights and domestic tourism is increasing.

Late Friday, authorities in the capital, Hanoi, reinstated a recommendation to wear masks in public places when the Vietnamese reference index VN Index .VNI closed 3.22%.

The Vietnamese ban on international commercial flights continues, but foreign experts and skilled workers were able to enter if they were subject to a mandatory central quarantine.

Of the nearly 150 cases reported in the past three months, all were imported into people who were quarantined upon arrival.

Vietnam earlier this week said it would repatriate around 130 Vietnamese citizens infected with the Equatorial Guinea virus.

In March, Danang reported six local coronavirus cases when the US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, who reported cases on board, made a port visit. There was no confirmation that the six cases were connected to the ship.

Reporting by Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen; Edited by James Pearson

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