Vietnam recorded its first coronavirus outbreak in nearly two months on Thursday. More than 80 new cases were reported as authorities began testing tens of thousands of people for containment.
The infections were spotted in North Vietnam, where a cluster has been linked to a case of the contagious variant of coronavirus, first discovered in the UK.
The number was a new daily record for the communist nation of 96 million people, widely lauded for handling the pandemic – with just over 1,500 cases before the new cluster and just 35 deaths.
The recent outbreak in Hai Duong and Quang Ninh provinces is “more complicated and serious” than anything Vietnam has dealt with before, said Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam.
“We want to isolate and combat the outbreak to prevent it from spreading as quickly as possible.”
In Hai Duong Province, the cases are believed to be related to a factory worker who tested positive for the virus when she landed in the Japanese city of Osaka. It was found that it had the British variant.
The city where the factory is located has been closed and 220,000 people are on lockdown while medical workers test tens of thousands of people in the area.
In Quang Ninh on the border with China, one of the infected is a security officer at Van Don Airport, where international passengers arrived before they were sent to the mandatory quarantine.
The airport has been closed while passenger cars are not allowed to leave or enter the province.
The outbreak comes at a delicate time for Vietnam as the Communist Party Congress begins Tuesday twice in a decade to elect a new leadership.
A long New Year break will follow in February when millions of people are expected to travel to their families.
Vietnam last saw a community transmission case of the virus in December and had kept infections low thanks to mass quarantines, extensive contact tracing and strict movement controls.
Most commercial domestic flights have been suspended since March, but Vietnamese nationals stayed overseas and some foreigners were allowed to enter.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)