Vietnam Suspends Flights to and From Virus-hit Danang

Vietnam has returned to high alert following the confirmation of nearly 22 cases of the coronavirus infection in and around Danang

The Vietnamese government suspended on Tuesday all flights to and from the coastal city of Danang for 15 days following the detection of nearly 22 cases of the coronavirus infection in the city and its surrounding areas.

Vietnam has returned to high alert following the confirmation by authorities on Saturday that the first cases of community infections since April, and few cases on Sunday, all within the vicinity of Danang. Additionally, 11 cases connected to a hospital in Danang were reported on Monday, and seven in the city and the nearby province of Quang Nam on Tuesday.

Social Distancing Measures Reintroduced

All bus and train services to and from Danang have also been suspended from Tuesday, a government statement said. The city, a tourism hot spot, reintroduced social distancing measures over the weekend after confirmation of a resurgence of domestically-transmitted cases.

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With more than 95 million people, Vietnam is the most populous country in the world yet to report a COVID-19 fatality. Thanks to strict quarantining and aggressive and widespread testing, Vietnam has kept its infection tally to 438 cases.

Two of the Danang cases were in a critical condition, the health ministry said. Vietnam is still closed to foreign tourism, but there had been a surge in domestic travelers capitalizing on discounted flights and holiday packages to local resorts.

Evacuating Tourists

On Monday, the government said it had requested the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) to allow domestic airlines to increase flights from Danang to 11 Vietnamese cities to help evacuate 80,000 people, mostly tourists.

"All evacuation flights now are cancelled," CAAV deputy director Vo Huy Cuong told Reuters. "We operated 90 flights to evacuate tourists stranded in Danang yesterday but most tourists had already left Danang on Sunday, mostly by coach or train to nearby provinces."

About 18,000 tourists who had been in Danang have returned to Ho Chi Minh City, authorities from the southern business hub said on Tuesday. A further 15,000 to 20,000 had been expected to arrive in Hanoi, the capital's governing body on Monday.

According to state media, Vietnam will repatriate 120 construction workers infected with COVID-19 from Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday. The stricken workers will be treated at a hospital outside Hanoi.

(With inputs from agencies)