COVID-19 is back in Vietnam and apparently spreading in and around Da Nang, by all accounts because it was brought into the country by a ring trafficking Chinese nationals into central Vietnam.
Four new community transmissions of coronavirus were reported in Da Nang and nearby Quang Ngai Province over the weekend, ending a streak of 99 days without a single COVID-19 community transmission in Vietnam. Two of the patients, male residents of Da Nang aged 57 and 61, are reportedly in critical condition and receiving ventilator support. The third case is a 71-year-old woman from Da Nang while the fourth is a 17-year-old male from the town of Quang Ngai, some 145 km south of Da Nang, who has recently travelled twice by coach between his home town and a hospital in Da Nang.
The authorities seem to believe the new COVID-19 transmissions are a result of foreigners being smuggled from China, with the police recently busting a ring that had carried Chinese nationals into central Vietnam via unofficial routes. Seven people have already been arrested, including a 42-year-old Chinese man suspected to be the ringleader – seized on Saturday night at a hotel in Da Nang.
As of Monday morning, the police have found 73 Chinese nationals who had entered Vietnam illegally over the past several days. In a quick response to the crisis, the authorities have launched a mass inspection of foreigners staying in Da Nang but also imposed a number of restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus.
In effect immediately, Da Nang has stopped receiving tourists for 14 days and closed all non-essential services such as bars, massage parlours and amusement parks until further notice. The city has also banned gatherings of more than 30 people and urges all its residents to observe social distancing as much as possible, maintaining a minimum distance of one metre in public places.