Vietnam intensifies border checks to stem 'very worrisome' Covid-19 outbreak

The government is bracing for a scenario where 30,000 people could be infected. PHOTO: AFP

HANOI (BLOOMBERG) - Vietnam has ordered a strict border control after lengthening the quarantine period as it traces the recent flare up in coronavirus cases to overseas travellers.

During a virus task force meeting on Tuesday (May 4) afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam ordered an intensified checks on arriving travellers, according to a post on a government website. Authorities will also go "district by district, house by house" and visit companies hosting overseas workers to contain any spread.

The government is bracing for a scenario where 30,000 people could be infected, Dam said, adding that the number is meant for preparation and not a forecast. There had been reports that many places weren't strictly implementing quarantine rules, which fuelled the recent spike in cases, Mr Dam said.

"The virus situation currently is very worrisome with multiple risk factors from people entering Vietnam legally, illegally and locals letting the guard down," Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said in the post.

Three patients in Vinh Phuc were found to be carrying a virus variant first detected in India, the health ministry had said.

Vietnam, which has among the lowest number of infections in Southeast Asia, has ordered movement restrictions after domestic Covid-19 cases flared up for the first time in a month. The nation is lagging peers in the region on vaccination, according to Bloomberg's vaccine tracker.

Hanoi has shut schools, tourism sites and sidewalk eateries. In both the capital and Ho Chi Minh City, cinemas, gyms and spas have been shuttered. The country had 2,996 infections and 35 deaths as of May 4, including 37 local cases from April 27 when the first domestic infection in a month was reported, according to the health ministry.

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