Cambodia border, Mekong Delta named 'hotspots' for possible Covid-19 outbreak

By Le An   April 16, 2021 | 12:28 am PT
Cambodia border, Mekong Delta named 'hotspots' for possible Covid-19 outbreak
Border guards in An Giang Province with a sniffer dog patrol around the border area with Cambodia, August 2020. Photo by VnExpress/An Phu.
Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long warned the risk of a new Covid-19 outbreak in Vietnam was "very high" amid a significant surge in community transmissions from neighboring countries.

Long told an online meeting Friday the southwest border with Cambodia and southwestern provinces of the country, better known as the Mekong Delta region, are now "major hotspots" at high risk of possible Covid-19 outbreaks.

Therefore, he urged border forces to prevent illegal entry or exit as well as to ensure those entering Vietnam from neighboring countries are sent to centralized quarantine facilities.

Vietnam's border with Cambodia spans 1,137 kilometers, including the border with four Mekong Delta provinces An Giang, Dong Thap, Kien Giang and Long An. Other Vietnamese provinces bordering Cambodia are Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh which are near HCMC, and Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, and Dak Nong in the Central Highlands.

"If we neglect and let those carrying the virus, especially the U.K. and South African strains, enter the country and then infect the community, pandemic control would become very difficult," Long said.

Both Cambodia and Thailand have become epicenters in Southeast Asia with a significant surge in Covid-19 community transmissions in recent days.

Cambodia imposed a coronavirus lockdown on its capital Phnom Penh on Thursday in a bid to contain a spike in cases. The country recorded 344 new infections on Thursday, pushing its tally to 5,200, while Thailand reported 1,543 new coronavirus cases, the sharpest increase since the start of the pandemic and the fourth record rise this week, amid a third wave of infections in the country.

Just last month, Vietnam had suffered a spate of infections after a group of Vietnamese returned home illegally from Cambodia.

Three of them, all women 25 and 26 years old, were confirmed infected after they returned on a fishing vessel that docked at Phu Quoc Island of Kien Giang.

Many Vietnamese reside and do business in Cambodia, with many found infected with the novel coronavirus here over the past months.

While Vietnam has sealed its borders, there are occasional illegal entrants who evade checkpoints to avoid mandatory quarantine.

As per the Health Ministry protocols, all those entering the nation from abroad must be quarantined for 14 days, during which they will be tested at least twice.

Vietnam has gone over two months without community transmissions.

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