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COVID-19 | After 99 days of success, virus returns to haunt Vietnam

A woman walks past a shop that sells T-shirts on a street in Hanoi on Thursday.

A woman walks past a shop that sells T-shirts on a street in Hanoi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: AP

For 99 days, Vietnam seemed to have defeated the COVID-19 pandemic. There wasn’t a single reported case of community transmission. Not a single death. The country of 96 million people was hailed globally as a standout success.

But then a week ago, an outbreak began that has now grown to 43 cases in six parts of the country, including three of the largest cities, and forced authorities to reimpose restrictions many thought they had put behind them. And experts worry the outbreak could be much larger than currently known.

The outbreak began last Thursday in the coastal city of Da Nang, where thousands of tourists had gathered for vacations. A 57-year-old man was hospitalised with a fever and tested positive. His condition worsened and he was put on a ventilator.

Then health workers found three other infections in Da Nang over the weekend. And then on Monday, another 11. All of those were other patients or health workers at the Da Nang Hospital, where the man remains in critical condition.

On Monday, authorities encouraged 80,000 tourists to leave the city by providing extra flights. Hotels emptied out and thousands cancelled their plans to visit. Then on Tuesday, the city was put into lockdown.

Just how the virus crept back remains a mystery. Authorities say they think the source was from outside Vietnam because this time the virus is a different strain. “One big difference I’ve noticed between this wave and the previous one is that the cases we have right now, a lot of them are severe,” said Marc Choisy, a bio-mathematician.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 8:37:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/covid-19-after-99-days-of-success-virus-returns-to-haunt-vietnam/article32233231.ece

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