Vietnam says early August ‘decisive’ in containing coronavirus

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam is in the middle of a "decisive" fight against the new corona virus, its prime minister said on Monday and focused on the city of Danang, where infections have occurred in four factories with a total of 3,700 employees.

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A man wears a protective mask as he drives past a banner promoting Coronavirus Disease Prevention (COVID-19) in Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 31, 2020. REUTERS / Kham / File Photo

Vietnam, which has been widely praised for its mitigation efforts since the onset of the coronavirus in late January, is fighting several new Danang-related infection clusters after more than three months without detection of a domestic transmission.

"We have to use all our efforts to curb all known epicentres, especially those in Danang," Vietnam TV official Nguyen Xuan Phuc quoted government officials.

"The beginning of August will be the crucial time to prevent the virus from spreading on a large scale."

The Southeast Asian country with 96 million inhabitants has confirmed at least 642 infections with six deaths.

Authorities reported 22 new Danang cases in central Vietnam and a tourism hotspot on Monday, which saw the country's first domestic case in 100 days on July 25.

The source of the new outbreak is unclear, but has spread to at least 10 locations, including the capital Hanoi in the north and the business center of Ho Chi Minh City in the south, where nearly 200 people were infected and six people killed.

According to factories in Lao Dong, four cases have been found in factories in various industrial parks in Danang that employ a total of 77,000 people.

MORE CONTAGIOUS STRAIN

Vietnam does not plan to introduce widespread closure beyond areas that are considered to be epicentres of the current outbreak, a government spokesman said on Monday.

"If there is an infection in a hamlet, we will only block that hamlet, not the entire district or province," government spokesman Mai Tien Dung said at a monthly press conference.

The government said on Saturday that it plans to test Danang's total population of 1.1 million people, which is part of "unprecedented measures" to combat the outbreak. Danang issued a block last week, banned movement in and out of the coastal city, and closed entertainment venues.

Buon Ma Thuot, a city in Vietnam's coffee-growing region, was also banned on Monday, state media reported.

23 percent of recent infections are asymptomatic, the government said, meaning that people infected with the virus do not show symptoms of the COVID-19 respiratory disease that it causes.

Phuc said the new outbreak could have a more critical impact than previous waves of infection.

The authorities said on Sunday that the virus strain discovered in Danang was more contagious and every infected person could infect 5-6 people, compared with 1.8-2.2 for infections earlier this year.

According to a Reuters analysis of official data, Vietnam has performed 52,000 corona virus tests in the past seven days. Ministry of Health data does not include rapid tests for mass screening.

Reporting by Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen; Writing by James Pearson; Edited by Martin Petty and Mark Heinrich

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