400 tourists remain stranded in Danang as Vietnam braces itself for second wave of coronavirus infections

Tourists wait to check-in for departure at Da Nang Airport, Vietnam, on July 26, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK - Just about 400 tourists remain in the central Vietnam city of Danang, officials told The Straits Times on Wednesday (July 29), after the government evacuated tens of thousands of tourists there ahead of a two-week long lockdown to combat a renewed coronavirus outbreak.

Vietnam confirmed eight more Covid-19 cases in Danang on Wednesday morning, as local media reported new cases in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the Central Highlands linked to a recent outbreak in Danang.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the current wave of infections was different from the previous wave Vietnam fought in March and every province and city in the South-east Asian country was at risk, state broadcaster Vietnam Television reported.

The source of this cluster remains unclear as Vietnam largely banned entry to foreigners from March and quarantines all arrivals. Prior to this, the country had not seen any local transmission in over three months.

Vietnam was among the first countries in South-east Asia to restart businesses and inter-provincial travel after a nationwide stay-home order.

In May, it launched a local tourism campaign to stimulate the economy, with hotels and airlines offering deep discounts to get people back on the road.

As a result, there were an estimated 80,000 tourists in the coastal city of Danang when local transmission was detected over the weekend.

Mr Nguyen Xuan Binh, deputy director of Danang's department of tourism, told The Straits Times on Wednesday morning about 400 tourists remain stranded in the city.

At least six hotels have offered discounted rates to help them tide over the 15-day lockdown now in effect in Danang, where non-essential travel is prohibited.

"The rooms have to be inspected by the department of health to see if they meet social distancing regulations," he said.

"We are trying our best to help tourists to return home as soon as possible. We are still working with other offices and related departments to offer more help."

All flights and bus and train services to and from Danang were suspended from Tuesday, and residents have been ordered to stay home unless heading out for essential work or errands.

Since Saturday, the popular tourist spot has recorded at least 29 new coronavirus infections, said the government's online newspaper. Many of the infected were patients or family members of patients in Danang's hospitals.

Over 16,000 people are currently under medical surveillance, including some 13,000 in centralised quarantine camps.

Meanwhile, Hanoi authorities are trying to ringfence its first suspected coronavirus case in months after an employee of a pizza restaurant there tested positive for the coronavirus, reported local media outlet Vnexpress.

According to Hanoi authorities, some 15,000 to 20,000 people recently returned to the capital from Danang.

Since the start of the pandemic, Vietnam has logged 446 cases of infections. None of the patients has died.

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