80,000 people fleeing Vietnamese city after new virus cases

HAU DINH

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — 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 was confirmed to be infected by the coronavirus on Saturday, 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 a social distancing order on the city.

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 have added extra flights and larger planes to transport the people, mostly domestic tourists, out of the city.

“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.

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 is a new strain that has not previously been found in Vietnam. The mutated strain has a faster speed of infection, but its harmfulness compared to the previous strain is not yet known, it said.

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