Localities take action as Vietnam's new Covid-19 outbreak spreads

By Nguyen Quy    January 29, 2021 | 03:15 pm GMT+7
Localities take action as Vietnam's new Covid-19 outbreak spreads
The St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi is left deserted during social distancing period in April 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Trinh.
Many northern Vietnamese localities decided to cancel crowded spring festivals, suspend sports and entertainment activities as the country faces a fast-spreading Covid-19 outbreak.

As of Friday morning, Vietnam has reported 1,651 Covid-19 patients, including 93 from the latest outbreak, a record high single-day tally that broke the nation's streak of nearly two months without a community transmission. The latest outbreak has spread over at least five localities - Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Hanoi, Hai Phong and Bac Ninh, all in northern Vietnam.

Authorities in Hanoi, where one patient was confirmed Friday morning, has called on people to avoid large gatherings and cancel year-end parties amid rising fears of the latest outbreak.

Hanoi authorities said if the Covid-19 outbreak turned complicated in the capital, all festivals and events for Tet would be canceled. Hanoi is less than two hours from Hai Duong, currently the biggest hotspot with 77 cases, and a major transport link to northern localities.

Bac Ninh Province, home to foreign-invested tech giants like Samsung and LG, suspended entertainment facilities like karaoke parlors, bars, dance clubs from Friday while all cultural, sports and crowded arts events were prohibited.

Provincial authorities also banned Tet festivals to avoid large gatherings. The latest outbreak comes just two weeks before Tet, Vietnam's biggest and most important festival, an occasion for family reunions and home parties.

Bac Ninh has recorded one Covid-19 patient and closed restaurants and food shops from Friday afternoon.

Son La Province on Thursday decided to suspend Vietnam Trail Marathon scheduled to be held in highlands town Moc Chau on Saturday, which has been registered by 4,300 athletes including foreigners. Other entertainment and cultural events will also be halted.

The province is monitoring two people who had close contact with "Patient 1552", a 34-year-old woman of Taiwanese-owned Vietnam Poyun Electronics in Hai Duong and "Patient 1553", a 31-year-old employee at Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh Province.

In Bac Giang, all festivals, cultural and sports events were suspended from Friday while religious events and large gatherings of 50 people or more were banned. Authorities also called on people to limit visiting entertainment facilities as well as tourist destinations at this time.

Cao Bang Province also canceled cultural events on Kim Dong pedestrian street from Thursday night while exhibitions and entertainment activities were suspended from Friday.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc urged calm and promised swift action at an urgently called meeting on Thursday.

Containment efforts could be complicated by the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, when big gatherings indoors are typical, officials said.

The country has avoided economic slowdown seen by its neighbors and many other countries in part by effectively closing its borders and imposing strict quarantines, as well as testing and tracing. Vietnam's GDP grew 2.9 percent last year, making it one of the world's top-performing economies.

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