Cases of COVID-19 infection linked to a recent outbreak in Vietnam’s coastal city of Danang are continuing to surge, with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc calling the next 10 days “critical” to efforts to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
The number of cases in the country now stands at 880, Vietnam’s health ministry said in a statement Wednesday, adding that 14 new cases were reported—one in Hanoi and 13 in Danang.
A total of 17 deaths have now been linked to an outbreak in Danang at the end of July, with all who died reported to have suffered from a range of underlying chronic diseases, mostly renal failure, the health ministry said.
Vietnam’s 17th death was of a 55-year-old man in Danang, who died of pneumonia caused by the infection, complicated by Type 1 Diabetes, end-stage renal failure, and high blood pressure.
The country of 95 million people ranks near the bottom of the World Health Organization tables of total cases, below tiny Andorra and Malta.
But the new outbreak has prompted Vietnam, which has been among the most successful countries in tackling COVID-19, to step up contact tracing and placing several provinces have under social distancing orders.
In a statement Wednesday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the next 10 days will be critical in efforts to control the new outbreak, which began at the end of July after no new cases of infection had been reported for over three months.
“Note that the period from this week to the middle of next week is critical” to contain the spread, Nguyen said in a statement reported on Wednesday by Reuters.
“[Vietnam] is now racing to control infections in multiple locations linked to the popular holiday city of Danang, where a new outbreak was detected on July 25,” Reuters said in its report, adding that a city stadium converted to a 1,000-bed field hospital has begun to take in patients from three Danang hospitals.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications said on Tuesday that by Aug. 11, some 15.7 million smartphone users in Vietnam had now downloaded Bluezone, a locally developed contact-tracing app, to identify and alert people who have interacted with COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, Taiwan announced on Aug. 12 that because of the upward trend of COVID-19 infections in Vietnam, Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare has now moved Vietnam from its list of low-risk countries to the medium-risk list.
Business travelers from Vietnam will now have to quarantine for seven days on their arrival in Taiwan, where previously they were required to quarantine for only five days, Minister Chen Shih-chung said.
Other medium-risk countries on Taiwan’s list include South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, while low-risk countries and regions include New Zealand, Macau, Palau, Fiji, Brunei, Thailand, Mongolia, Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Richard Finney.