Coronavirus pandemic

400 tourists stranded in Danang as second Covid-19 wave looms

Tens of thousands evacuated ahead of city's lockdown; Vietnam on high alert with 12 new infections

A worker spraying disinfectant outside a pizza parlour in Hanoi where a worker tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from Danang. Apart from the capital, Vietnam's new infections are in Danang, Ho Chi Minh City and Dak Lak province in the cent
A worker spraying disinfectant outside a pizza parlour in Hanoi where a worker tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from Danang. Apart from the capital, Vietnam's new infections are in Danang, Ho Chi Minh City and Dak Lak province in the central highlands.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Just about 400 tourists remain in the central Vietnam city of Danang, officials told The Straits Times yesterday, after tens of thousands of tourists evacuated the city ahead of a 15-day long lockdown to combat a renewed coronavirus outbreak.

Vietnam is on high alert, with 12 new infections confirmed yesterday across the country and the authorities racing to ring-fence the threat posed by returnees.

While would-be travellers rushed to cancel their holiday bookings, a pizza parlour in Hanoi was disinfected and a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City was locked down, local media reported.

The new infections logged yesterday were in Danang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Dak Lak province in the central highlands.

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 country was at risk, state broadcaster Vietnam Television reported.

The source of this latest outbreak remains unclear as Vietnam has largely banned entry to foreigners since March and has quarantined all arrivals. Prior to last Saturday, the country had not seen any local transmission in over three months.

While the law enforcement authorities have stepped up inspections and uncovered dozens of illegal entrants from China over the past month, none of them have tested positive for Covid-19 so far.

The health authorities had earlier attributed the new infections to a more contagious strain of the coronavirus not detected in Vietnam before.

The country of 97 million was among the first 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 at the weekend.

  • 80,000

    Estimated number of tourists in Danang when local transmission was detected at the weekend.

  • 12

    Number of new coronavirus infections confirmed in Vietnam yesterday.

  • 450

    Total number of Covid-19 infections Vietnam has so far.

Mr Nguyen Xuan Binh, deputy director of Danang's department of tourism, told The Straits Times yesterday morning that 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," Mr Binh 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 the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Vietnam has recorded 450 cases. None of the patients has died.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2020, with the headline '400 tourists stranded in Danang as second Covid-19 wave looms'. Print Edition | Subscribe