HANOI (REUTERS) - Vietnam will deploy troops to industrial Binh Duong province, a major manufacturing hub in the South-east Asian country, to help contain an expected 50,000 additional coronavirus infections there over the next two weeks, the government said on Thursday (Aug 26).
Binh Duong is adjacent to virus epicentre Ho Chi Minh City and has so far recorded 81,000 Covid-19 cases, a third of which were detected in the past week, according to Vietnam's health ministry. The province is home to production facilities for dozens of major firms, including South Korea's Kumho Tire and Tetra Pak, the world's largest food packaging company.
The province also hosts a string of suppliers for Samsung Electronics and Pegatron, a key supplier for Apple. It is one of Vietnam's largest recipients of foreign investment after Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Provincial authorities are preparing for a worst-case scenario within which cases could exceed 150,000, the government said in a statement on its website. The number refers to a contingency plan, and is not a projection. 2,000 troops will be sent to the province to support the fight against the virus, the government statement said, along with 50 mobile medical stations and 15 ambulances.
Vietnam has deployed soldiers to the streets of Ho Chi Minh City to help enforce the country's strictest movement curbs yet which prevent people from leaving home, even for food. Ordinary residents who need to travel in the event of a medical emergency can still do so, but the military has taken over the distribution of food in most parts of the city.
After successfully containing the pandemic for much of last year, Vietnam has been battling a surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus. The country has recorded a total of 381,000 cases, most of which were detected in Ho Chi Minh City and its surrounding provinces since late April.