Ha Nam probes coronavirus outbreak source

By Hoang Phuong   May 4, 2021 | 10:46 pm PT
Ha Nam probes coronavirus outbreak source
A Covid-19 checkpoint is erected in Ha Nam Province, April 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Thuy.
Police in the northern province of Ha Nam on Tuesday launched a criminal investigation into a coronavirus patient that ignored self-isolation protocol and caused an outbreak.

Police are looking at a possible charge of "spreading dangerous infectious diseases in humans," which carries a punishment of up to 12 years in prison.

"Patient 2899," 28-year-old Nguyen Van Dai, is a migrant worker who returned from Japan on April 7. Following his mandatory 14-day quarantine, he returned to his hometown in Quan Nhan Village of Dao Ly Commune in the northern province's Ly Nhan District on April 22, where he was supposed to continue self-isolation for another 14 days. Neglecting the latter, he attended several crowded festivities, authorities said.

His actions had allegedly caused a coronavirus outbreak in Ha Nam, which eventually spread to several other localities, ending Vietnam's streak of zero community transmissions in around a month.

A score of officials, including Nguy Cao Phi, director of the Ly Nhan medical center, Phan Thanh Quynh, chairman of Dao Ly People's Committee and Luong Thanh Ngoc, head of a medical station in Dao Ly, have received warnings from authorities. Phi and Quynh also had their names removed from elections for a seat at the local people’s councils.

This is not the first time Vietnam has launched criminal investigations into the spread of Covid-19. A flight attendant in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in March received a two-year suspended sentence for the same charge.

Vietnam has seen 38 Covid-19 community transmissions in six localities - Ha Nam, Vinh Phuc, Hanoi, Hung Yen, Da Nang, Yen Bai and HCMC since April 27. Ha Nam has recorded 14 cases so far.

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