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80,000 people to be evacuated from Vietnamese city after coronavirus outbreak

A woman stands on a beach in the city of Vung Tau in Vietnam.
A woman joins a throng of beachgoers in the waters off the city of Vung Tau, Vietnam, on Sunday.
(Hau Dinh / Associated Press)

About 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, are being evacuated from the popular Vietnamese beach city of Da Nang after more than a dozen people there were confirmed to have COVID-19, the government said Monday.

Vietnam, widely seen as a success in dealing with the coronavirus, reimposed a social distancing order in Da Nang following the confirmation of the cases, the first known to be locally transmitted in the country in over three months.

A 57-year-old man Saturday was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, the country’s first local case since April. Three more cases were confirmed over the weekend, followed by 11 more on Monday, the Ministry of Health said.

On Sunday, the government reimposed the social distancing order on the city.

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The new outbreak sparked fear among tourists in the city, with many cutting their trips short.

The Civil Aviation Administration said the country’s four airlines had added extra flights and larger planes to transport the people, mostly domestic tourists, out of the city.

Europe’s tourism revival is hitting snags only weeks after nations reopened their borders, with rising coronavirus infections in Spain and elsewhere.

“It will probably take four days to evacuate the 80,000 passengers,” CAA director Dinh Viet Thang said in a statement. Those leaving Da Nang have been told to self-quarantine and report their health condition to local health agencies, the Ministry of Health said.

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It said the 11 cases confirmed Monday were all patients and health workers at Da Nang Hospital, where the initial case is being treated.

The hospital has been isolated, and authorities are tracing the contacts of those infected for testing and compulsory quarantines.

The ministry also said the virus was a new strain that had not previously been found in Vietnam. The mutated strain has a faster speed of infection, but its harmfulness compared with the previous strain is not yet known, the ministry said.


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