Vietnam joins list of Asia-Pacific nations struggling to beat Covid-19

28-Jul-2020 Intellasia | The Telegraph | 9:02 AM Print This Post

Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia all have been hailed as models of pandemic prevention before being blindsided by a relentless virus that appears impossible to contain without a vaccine.

On Monday, Vietnam shut down its popular coastal city of Da Nang and made swift plans for the evacuation of some 80,000 tourists after four new locally transmitted coronavirus cases were recorded for the first time since April.

Vietnam’s transition from success story to cautionary tale has been especially painful for its citizens whose lives had all but returned to normal after the government’s early intervention, strict border and quarantine controls and tracing system kept cases to just over 400, with no deaths.

While Da Nang has reintroduced tight social distancing measures, the rest of the shocked country is bracing itself for further curbs.

“There are four identified cases now and two are in critical condition. Given what we know about the course of this disease, we have to believe that these are just the tip of the iceberg and there has to be a lot more cases. How many and where they will be, it’s too early to know,” cautioned Dr Todd Pollack, from Harvard’s Partnership for Health Advancement in the capital, Hanoi.

The lack of clarity over the source of the current outbreak has sparked particular alarm, with widespread suspicion that it could be linked to people crossing the border illegally from China.

Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the prime minister, ordered a crackdown on illegal immigration and the police on Sunday arrested a 42-year old Chinese man accused of leading a people smuggling gang.

No official link has yet been established with the current Covid-19 cases but, if confirmed, it would fall into a regional pattern of countries being hit with new outbreaks of the virus because of loopholes at the border.

Hong Kong had defied expectations by keeping the virus at bay for much of the year attributed to a highly aware public who quickly embraced mask-wearing, hygiene and social distancing measures but it is now witnessing triple figures on a daily basis.

The third wave now sweeping the densely packed finance hub has been blamed in part by some health experts on widespread exemptions on 14-day quarantine requirements that were granted to ship and air crew, giving the virus an entry point from which to leak out into the community.

From Wednesday, the government will introduce new limits on crew changeovers and will restrict their personnel to quarantine facilities, but many in the city fear the virus is already spreading out of control, with more than 1,000 infections detected since early July.

Residents will no longer be allowed to gather in groups larger than two and dining in restaurants will also be banned.

The delicate balance of health considerations against the slow opening of borders for economic reasons has been fraught even in a region still closed to mass foreign tourism.

New Zealand’s ministry of health on Monday said it was seeking clarification after a person who left the country for South Korea last week tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival. It later said it believed the person may have contracted the virus while transiting Singapore airport, reported Radio New Zealand.

If so, this would offer some solace to Wellington, which has beaten the virus back to 21 active cases, but a blow to Singapore, which only reopened its airport to transit passengers on June 2 after a two-month ban.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/vietnam-joins-list-asia-pacific-095820001.html

 


Category: Regional

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