Coronavirus: Hanoi residents advised to stay home, as Vietnam expands quarantine facilities

Military doctors check people quarantined at a military base in Lang Son, Vietnam on Feb 20, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

HO CHI MINH (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, has advised its residents to self-isolate at home until at least the end of March, after Vietnam recorded the biggest daily increase of the coronavirus, the city's ruling body said on Thursday (March 19).

Weeks after declaring the recovery of all 16 of its coronavirus sufferers, Vietnam has confirmed 76 cases of the virus, ten of which emerged on Wednesday, after authorities announced a surge in infections from overseas.

Schools and entertainment venues have been closed in the capital of the communist-led country, but the Hanoi People's Committee said it was bracing for a wave of new infections.

"The outbreak in Hanoi will surge in the upcoming days as thousands of Vietnamese are set to flock home in droves to flee the pandemic," Hanoi's chairman Nguyen Duc Chung said at a meeting, according to a statement on the Committee's website.

"We are entering a new phase of the fight against virus. If nothing urgent, stay at home," Chung said, adding the outbreak was still under control.

Hanoi alone has recorded 20 cases of the virus - most of whom had travelled from Europe.

Authorities also advised residents in the capital to limit large gatherings and refrain from using public transport as "the chance the virus existing in the community is very high".

Schools citywide will remain shut until April 5.

The city's authority has ordered the closure of cinemas, clubs and bars, massage parlours, karaoke lounges and online game centres until the end of March.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese government said on its website the country's military is expanding its quarantine facilities to house about 60,000 people by adding as many as 20,000 beds as thousands returned home from virus-hit countries.

Nearly 7,000 Vietnamese returned to the country by plane on Wednesday, including more than 5,700 from across Asean, after local carriers announced they are suspending flights to other South-east Asian countries and Europe, Zing News reported, citing information from airports nationwide.

The government, which has quarantined more than 21,000 people since the coronavirus outbreak hit the country in January, will now be able to house 38,000 people more, it said. About 14,000 people have since been released from isolation.

Additionally, Ho Chi Minh City is converting dormitories at the Vietnam National University into a 20,000-bed quarantine zone, which will increase the municipality's isolation capacity to 23,800 people, Tuoi Tre Newspaper reported, citing information from the city's health department. That includes 1,500 beds at two facilities under the military.

Vietnam has monitored the health of 41,918 people that have had close contact with virus patients and or arrived from virus-hit countries, including 34,443 under self-quarantine at homes, as of Wednesday, the health ministry said on its website.

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