Vietnam has on Friday recorded its first coronavirus death, even as the pandemic surges in a country that had previously been praised for wiping out the contagion completely.
The patient is reported to have been a 70-year-old man who died in the central city of Hoi An nearly three weeks after being admitted to hospital with serious underlying conditions, according to the State media.
But an outbreak over the weekend in the beach resort of Danang, has placed the country back on Covid19 alert, even as the communist nation was applauded earlier this year for controlling COVID-19 with strict restrictions on movement, extensive quarantine measures and a strict track-and-trace regime.
“Elite medical experts” are currently working on the outbreak in Danang, Doctor Tran Nhu Duong, deputy head of the National Institute of Epidemiology, told state TV as news of the first death emerged.
They will join “around 1,000 people including military men” heading to the the epicentre of the latest cluster, a city that had been bursting with domestic tourists until authorities announced the virus had made a comeback.
Before the weekend Vietnam had not recorded a locally transmitted infection for nearly 100 days.
Vietnam had previously been in the clear, having not recorded a locally transmitted infection in 100 days, until nearly 100 people who had travelled to Danang have tested positive across the country, leaving health authorities racing towards controlling the outbreak.
The number of “infected people increased at a record figure” with 45 new cases, said the Suc Khoe Doi Song newspaper, a health ministry mouthpiece.
The patients aged between 27 and 87 were all being treated at or were employed at Danang’s hospitals, or were their relatives, it added.
State media said a makeshift hospital was being set up at a Danang sports centre in anticipation of the outbreak worsening.
Vietnam has responded to the cases, as at least 21,000 people are undergoing rapid-test swabs for the virus in the capital Hanoi after travelling to Danang. Similar tests were also conducted in business hub Ho Chi Minh City for returnees from Danang.
Meanwhile, flights in and out of Danang and public transport within the city have already been suspended.