Popular destinations bar tourists in anti-coronavirus drive

By Hoang Phong, Nguyen Nam   March 12, 2020 | 05:12 am PT
Popular destinations bar tourists in anti-coronavirus drive
Limestone karst mountains rise out of the waters in Ha Long Bay. Photo by Shutterstocks/tonkin.
Vietnam’s list of tourism hotspots refusing visitors is expanding as the country's Covid-19 epidemic has intensified since last Friday.

Quang Ninh's administration has ordered all tourism activities in the locality to be suspended to ensure safety for locals and foreign visitors as the country has recorded 28 new infections in the past six days after going clean for 22 days.

The northern province stopped receiving visitors to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO natural heritage site, as well as its lesser-known neighbor Bai Tu Long Bay.

Co To Island, a hidden gem in Quang Ninh, and all historical and tourist sites will also be closed from Thursday until March 26.

Earlier, four British visitors on the same Vietnam Airlines flight VN54 as Hanoi’s first Covid-19 patient Nguyen Hong Nhung, tested positive for the novel coronavirus last Sunday. So far, 12 people - 10 Brits, an Irishman and one Hanoian - who traveled with Nhung on the same flight from London to Hanoi on March 2, have tested positive for the virus.

Foreign tourists ride bicycles through rice paddies in Hoi An ancient town, central Vietnam. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy Tran.

Foreign tourists cycle through rice paddies near Hoi An. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy Tran.

The ancient town of Hoi An in central Vietnam, where a British tourist was found infected with Covid-19, stopped welcoming arrivals to Bay Mau Coconut Forest, two miles from the town center, since Wednesday.

Popular tourist attractions like Thanh Ha Pottery Village and Tra Que Village have also closed their doors until further notice.

Hoi An also temporarily suspended all activities along its pedestrian-friendly streets where motorized vehicles are restricted from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Hoi An has pioneered pedestrian-friendly streets since 2004, with most hotels, restaurants and homestay facilities offering bike rental services.

Popular historical landmarks in Hanoi, where five Covid-19 patients have been reported, including Hoa Lo Prison in Hoan Kiem District, Temple of Literature in Dong Da District, Temple of the Jade Mountain (Ngoc Son Temple) and several ancient houses in the Old Quarter have been closed amid rising fear of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Authorities in the northern city of Hai Phong stopped overnight cruises in Lan Ha Bay, located to the east of Cat Ba Island. The 7,000-hectare bay is home to around 400 islands of all sizes. Unlike its sister Ha Long, all islands in Lan Ha Bay are covered with trees and lush vegetation.

Since Tuesday, all tourist boats and accommodation facilities on Cat Ba Island have stopped welcoming visitors after a British woman who visited the island later tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

In the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, Con Son Islet of Binh Thuy District decided to refuse visitors until the epidemic is contained.

Tran Dinh Dung, director of Khanh Hoa Relics Preservation Center, said some crowded festivals, including Ponagar Tower Festival scheduled for March and April, will be canceled as a preventive measure to combat the epidemic.

Some famous islands, including Con Dao, Cu Lao Cham, and Ly Son have temporarily halted tourist operations as the Covid-19 epidemic spirals.

Vietnam has recorded 28 novel coronavirus infections in the last five days, bringing the total to 44, 16 of whom were discharged weeks ago.

The Covid-19 outbreak has thus far spread to 124 countries and territories around the world, killing over 4,600 people.

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