Vietnam Sees Illegal Entry Risk Amid 1st Local Cases Since April

Vietnamese authorities are warning of new novel coronavirus risks from illegal entries into the country as the nation reported its first local cases over the weekend after more than three months of no new community infections.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the country has let its guard down against the novel coronavirus after authorities reported four Vietnamese citizens -- from a 17-year-old male to a 71-year-old woman -- in the country’s central coast region had contracted the virus. Phuc said Vietnamese have become negligent and are failing to properly implement anti-virus recommendations from the government after the country successfully controlled the outbreak, according to a statement posted on the government’s website.

The prime minister also ordered authorities to tighten border and immigration controls to prevent foreigners from illegally entering the country, according to a government statement on Saturday.

Many people have crossed into Vietnam illegally recently, posing a risk of spreading the virus, VnExpress news website reported Sunday, citing Do Xuan Tuyen, deputy health minister. Police in the coastal city of Danang have arrested four people in recent days -- two Chinese and two Vietnamese -- on charges of organizing the illegal entry into the country of Chinese nationals, according to a statement on the government’s website.

Police in Quang Ninh province, north-east of Hanoi, recently began legal proceedings against six people on charges of bringing Chinese into the country illegally, Thanh Nien newspaper reported Saturday. More than 300 people have been arrested for entering the country illegally in the past two months, according to the newspaper, which cited the province’s border defense force.

The first reported new patient on Saturday, a 57-year-old man, had been in Danang city for about a month and hadn’t traveled to other provinces, the government said in a statement on Saturday. He had no communication with strangers, and was mostly in contact with family members and neighbors. He sought treatment at a hospital on July 20 for fever and cough.

On Sunday, officials said a 61-year-old man also tested positive, without saying how he got the virus or if he had been in contact with the first case. The man had also been in Danang for about a month and hadn’t traveled to other provinces, according to the health ministry. He went for treatment at a hospital on July 18.

Authorities on Sunday also reported a 71-year-old female, who had been in Ho Chi Minh City from the end of June until July 8, experienced a fever and chest pains July 12 and traveled around Danang before eventually testing positive for the virus. And a 17-year-old male tested positive after traveling on a bus back to Quang Ngai province from Danang on July 17 with passengers who had been at the hospital where the first new patient was initially treated.

Danang’s authorities locked down the hospitals where the two victims visited and ordered their patients, medical staff, caregivers and family members -- about 7,000 people in total -- to be quarantined for 14 days, local media reported.

Authorities in Danang also requested people to adhere to social-distancing measures and not gather in public spaces where there are more than 30 people, apart from workplaces, schools and hospitals. There will also be a temporary suspension of festivals, religious ceremonies and operations of beauty spas, bars, massage parlors and dancing halls.

Danang will also stop tourists from entering the city for 14 days starting Sunday, according to the city’s authorities.

Vietnam had 420 Covid-19 infections and no deaths as of Monday morning. The case confirmed on Saturday was the first local transmission since April 16.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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