Cambodia's Covid-19 outbreak has southern Vietnam on edge

By Minh Nga   April 17, 2021 | 04:02 am PT
Cambodia's Covid-19 outbreak has southern Vietnam on edge
A station for health declaration in Ha Tien Town of Kien Giang Province, February 2021. Photo by Nhan Dan newspaper.
Kien Giang and An Giang provinces have reported high risks of infection given the high number of people returning from Cambodia, aside from illegal entries.

Authorities in Kien Giang told an online meeting with the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control on Friday there had been days when the province had received up to 10 people returning from Cambodia, with all testing positive for the new coronavirus.

Now, medical centers across the province no longer have the capacity to handle more Covid-19 patients.

The province shares a borderline of 56 kilometers (34.8 miles) and 62,000 square kilometers of sea area with Cambodia.

Daily, thousands of fishing vessels and boats trading oil and seafood operate across this maritime area, with managing entry a hard task, a provincial representative stated.

With the ongoing outbreak in Cambodia, the province suggested the Ministry of Health establishes a field hospital for Covid-19 treatment in the beach town of Ha Tien, Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper reported.

In response to the proposal, Nguyen Trong Khoa, deputy head of the Medical Examination and Treatment Management Department under the Ministry of Health, told the province to set up field hospitals using schools, dormitories or sports centers.

Cambodia imposed a coronavirus lockdown on its capital Phnom Penh on Thursday in a bid to contain a spike in cases. The country recorded 291 new infections on Saturday, pushing its tally to 5,771.

In a voice message posted on his official Facebook page, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned Cambodia was on the brink of "death valley" and urged people to work together to avoid calamity.

Heath Minister Nguyen Thanh Long told an online meeting Friday the border area with Cambodia, including Mekong Delta provinces, are now "major hotspots" at high risk of possible Covid-19 outbreaks.

Vietnam's border with Cambodia spans 1,137 kilometers, including the 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 Ho Chi Minh City, and Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, and Dak Nong in the Central Highlands.

On Tuesday, border guards in An Giang Province detected a man and woman breaking into Vietnam illegally from Cambodia.

Both later tested positive, prompting authorities to track down all those that had come into contact with the pair since they set foot in Vietnam.

By Saturday morning, it has been confirmed 12 people who had direct contact with them have tested negative.

Last month, Vietnam had suffered a spate of infections after a group of Vietnamese returned home illegally from Cambodia on a boat trip to Kien Giang's Phu Quoc Island.

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 Health Ministry protocol, 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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