The Vietnamese authorities are rushing to eliminate a possible new outbreak after the Southeast Asian country registered, on Saturday, its first possible case of coronavirus in 100 days.
According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, the 57-year-old patient had no international travel history and had been living in Da Nang during the past month, and two other cases were reported on the following day.
After announcing the registration of the case, the Vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen Chuan Fook, called for the strengthening of the search for contacts and extensive testing throughout the city, according to a government press release.
On Monday, the government made a tough decision to start evacuating 80,000 people from Da Nang, a process it said would take 4 days.
Domestic airlines operate about 100 flights a day to 11 cities across the country, according to the Vietnamese Civil Aviation Authority.
Only two Vietnamese provinces, Pak Jiang and Pak Ninh, will need to isolate those returning from Da Nang.
Other local authorities will require returnees to fill out health clearance forms.
Da Nang is a popular tourist attraction for both domestic and international tourists, who flock to the city’s white sandy beaches and sea resorts.
In 2019, the city welcomed about 8.7 million tourists, of whom about 5.2 million were local travelers, according to government data.
Vietnam almost completely closed its borders to foreign citizens last March, and it is still banned from international tourists because of the pandemic conditions.
Last June, the country allowed more than 400 Japanese business travelers to travel on several chartered flights, in a first step towards opening the border between the two countries.
While the evacuation of thousands of people due to three cases of coronavirus infection may appear to be exaggerated, Vietnam has been considered a leading example in containing the virus, thanks to its strict strategy for early screening of airport travelers, the quarantine program, and monitoring.
The state has not reported any deaths from “Covid-19,” and has confirmed only 420 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
On Saturday, the rules for social separation were re-applied in Da Nang, according to a government press release. All residents of the city must maintain a distance of at least one meter from each other, wear face masks in public places, and wash their hands regularly.
As of Tuesday, people living in residential areas around three hospitals in Da Nang will be required to stay in their homes, according to a directive issued by the Prime Minister.
Festivals, religious gatherings and major events will be banned in Da Nang, and unnecessary services, such as beauty salons, bars, and discos, will be closed from Tuesday.
Companies, tourist sites, restaurants and other sports centers will remain open as long as preventive measures are in place. This includes providing personal protection equipment to employees and recording the temperatures of all customers, according to the government statement.
Schools in Da Nang will remain open, but supervisors have been instructed to reduce the number of students in each class.
For their part, public health experts say the success of Vietnam lies in a range of factors, including the government’s rapid and early response to prevent the spread of the virus, conducting contact tracing and applying strict quarantine.