AKIPRESS.COM - Hundreds flooded the airport in the central Vietnamese tourism hotspot of Danang on Monday after three residents tested positive for the coronavirus and the evacuation of 80,000 people began, Reuters reported.
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.
A further 11 cases linked to a Danang hospital were reported late on Monday.
The evacuations of mostly local tourists 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 programme during the pandemic, Vietnam has kept its total tally of reported infections to just 431, 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.
Genome analysis by scientists in Vietnam showed that the strain of the coronavirus found in Danang had not previously been detected in the country, Vietnam’s health minister said, according to state broadcaster VTV.
The strain, which had been previously detected in Bangladesh, Britain and Ireland, appeared to be more contagious than previous strains found in Vietnam, VTV 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 that authorities in Ha Giang province, which borders China, had caught more than 1,500 people illegally crossing into the province since May.