New Covid cluster in Phu Quoc under control: official

By Hoang Phong   September 21, 2021 | 11:30 pm PT
New Covid cluster in Phu Quoc under control: official
Phu Quoc medical center where people linked to a new community infection cluster are quarantined, September 20, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Tai
Phu Quoc will continue with its plan to open tourism for vaccinated foreign tourists as authorities have identified the source of transmission of a new Covid cluster.

On Tuesday, authorities in Phu Quoc discovered its cluster of community infections in An Thoi Ward, just a few hours after social distancing measures had been relaxed in the island off the Mekong Delta province Kien Giang.

The first case discovered was a 45-year-old woman, who had visited a nearby market every afternoon for the past month to shop for ingredients for her noodle eatery, which offers takeout and delivery services.

As the woman came to An Thoi Ward’s medical center over prolonged cough and fever, she underwent a rapid Covid test, which turned out positive. Another real-time RT-PCR test result on Tuesday morning confirmed her infection.

Following contact tracing, at least 16 others including the woman’s husband, were found to have contracted the virus. The source of transmission might derive from Vinh Dam Port where the husband worked along with a team of workers in charge of loading goods.

Local authorities are conducting mass testing to quickly put out the cluster.

This is the first community outbreak detected in Phu Quoc since the Covid pandemic hit Vietnam early last year, although individual cases had been reported.

The appearance of the new Covid cluster comes at a time as the government agreed to welcome back fully-immunized foreign tourists to the island next month to save the tourism industry from a crisis.

Nguyen Luu Trung, deputy chairman of Kien Giang Province, told at a press meet on Tuesday that the new cluster would not affect the pilot tourism reopening plan approved by the government.

"This would be the first challenge we considered this as a big rehearsal to respond to Covid risks in the coming time when reopening international tourism," Trung said, as cited by Thanh Nien.

The government earlier approved plans to allow fully immunized tourists from Europe, the U.S., Northeast Asia, Australia, and the Middle East to visit Phu Quoc from October.

If the program gets underway, Phu Quoc will become the first locality in Vietnam to welcome foreign tourists since April 2020.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam's largest island, shot up in popularity after the government rolled out a 30-day visa-free policy for foreigners in 2014.

In 2019, before the onset of the ongoing pandemic, it received over five million visitors, including 541,600 foreigners.

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