Vietnamese islands refuse tourists over coronavirus fears

By Nguyen Nam   March 11, 2020 | 01:31 am PT
Vietnamese islands refuse tourists over coronavirus fears
An aerial view of Con Dao Island in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. Photo by VnExpress/Tam Linh.
Some famous islands in Vietnam have temporarily halted receiving tourists as the Covid-19 epidemic is getting more intense.

Authorities in Hoi An have temporarily stopped receiving tourists to the town’s Cu Lao Cham (Cham Islands) starting Tuesday after a British visitor staying in the ancient town became Vietnam’s 33rd Covid-19 patient

The 58-year-old British man boarded the same flight on March 2 as Nguyen Hong Nhung, Hanoi’s first Covid-19 patient and the country’s 17th. He has been quarantined and under treatment in Hue, central Vietnam.

In all, 12 people - 10 Brits, an Irishman and a Hanoian - who traveled with Nhung on Vietnam Airlines flight VN54 from London to Hanoi, have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

A bunch of eight small islands form the Cu Lao Cham Marine Protected Area, a biosphere reserve recognized by UNESCO.

The islands, a 30-minute boat ride from Hoi An's Cua Dai Beach, were once overrun as a result of their popularity in recent years, prompting authorities to regulate the number of tourists visiting the protected islands treasured for their biosphere.

Foreign tourists are seen on Cham Islands. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Vinh.

Foreign tourists on Cham Islands, Hoi An, central Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Vinh.

Meanwhile, authorities in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province in southern Vietnam have stopped allowing both domestic and foreign tourists to visit the 16-island archipelago Con Dao from Tuesday onwards until further notice.

Provincial authorities have also closed all historical relics and ecotourism sites in Con Dao.

Also from Tuesday, all tourist boats and accommodation facilities on Cat Ba Island off the northern city of Hai Phong have stopped welcoming visitors after a British woman who visited the island later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Cat Ba is an archipelago that includes 367 islands spanning 260 square kilometers, of which Cat Ba Island is the largest. It has a wide variety of natural ecosystems, both marine and terrestrial, and is highly biodiverse.

The central province of Quang Ngai has temporarily banned foreign tourists from Ly Son Island, 30 km offshore. The island covers an area of nearly 10 square kilometers. Vietnamese tourists wishing to visit the island are required to fill out health declarations.

Phu Quy Island, a beach "hideout" in the south central province of Binh Thuan, where a Vietnamese businesswoman was confirmed to have contracted Covid-19 after returning from the U.S., is considering a ban on foreigners entering the area.

Vietnam has recorded 35 Covid-19 infections since last Friday after going 22 days without any new infection.

The Covid-19 outbreak has thus far spread to 115 countries and territories around the world, killing over 4,000.

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