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Coronavirus Update: 76 Cases in Total, More Flight Routes Halted

In just four days, the number of Covid-19 cases in Vietnam has increased by 19 — from 57 cases on March 16 to 76 cases on March 18.

New cases

Out of all the new cases since our last coronavirus update, nine are located in Hanoi (Case 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 69, 70, 71 and 72). Of these nine cases, five patients are Vietnamese students studying abroad who returned to the country, three are foreigners, and one is a flight attendant.

In the afternoon of March 18, chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Chung announced that the city is expecting from six to eight new cases, as these people had tested positive for Covid-19 in the first round.

Moreover, Zing reported on March 19 that the city was expecting to welcome approximately 10,000 overseas Vietnamese in the near future, as it is already expecting some 600 to 800 people returning from foreign countries every day.

Since our last update, a new case has occurred in Da Nang (Case 68), Hai Duong (Case 73) and Phu Tho (Case 74).

In Saigon, the number of cases at the time of writing had increased by five (Case 64, 65, 66, 75 and 76). While Case 66, 75 and 76 were quarantined at the airport, the rest are located in District 8 (Case 64) and Go Vap District (Case 65). Government authorities have put the two immediate areas where Case 64 and 65 live on lockdown.

One of the most notable among the 19 new cases is Case 61, which marks Ninh Thuan Province’s first coronavirus patient. The 61st patient, BTT, is a 42-year-old man who traveled to Malaysia with a group of people, returned to Tan Son Nhat airport on March 4, and arrived home in Van Lam village, Ninh Thuan the next day. After Case 61 was announced, another person who was on the same flight with BTT also tested positive for COVID-19.

BTT reported to authorities that he went to Malaysia for business and stayed home from March 5 to March 9. However, it was later found out that in Malaysia, he attended the Muslim gathering at the Sri Petaling mosque in Kuala Lumpur, which has been identified as a hotbed for coronavirus transmission in the country. Further investigations also found that after returning to Ninh Thuan, Case 61 attended a religious event with up to 300 people.

In light of this news, Ninh Thuan authorities have ordered a stop to all religious events, entertainment activities and public gatherings. The provincial government has also sent over 5,000 people in Van Lam Village into a 28-day quarantine.

According to VnExpress, there are about 130 Vietnamese people who attended the gatherings at Sri Petaling, 49 of whom have been identified. Saigon has also announced that there are two more people who have preliminarily tested positive for Covid-19 in the first round; one is a person who has attended the Muslim gathering in Malaysia currently living in District 8, and the other is a pilot living in District 2.

Rising demand for quarantine facilities

As more cases appear and suspected cases rise, Vietnam is utilizing spaces such as university dorms, hotels and condotels to serve as quarantine facilities. On the evening of March 18, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said that there are 117 hotels and accommodations that have registered to be turned into paid quarantine facilities.

Hanoi has also established two new quarantine centers, one is the Phap Van–Tu Hiep student dormitory, and the other is Hanoi Vocational College of High Technology’s dormitory. The Phap Van–Tu Hiep quarantine center has 252 rooms with enough space for 2,000 people, and the Hanoi Vocational College of High Technology’s dormitory can house 800 people in two five-story buildings.

Similarly, Saigon has established two new quarantine centers in District 12 (500 beds) and Can Gio (300 beds). All student dormitories belonging to the HCMC Vietnam National Universities will also be turned into quarantine centers if need be. Students currently living in these dormitories have started moving out. According to Zing, the university residential areas will add 40,000 more slots to the city’s current quarantine infrastructure.

Flight route suspension

Due to the impact of the pandemic, many airlines in Vietnam have suspended several flight routes. From March 20, VietJet Air will stop all routes connecting Vietnam with Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia.

According to their press release, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines will also suspend services between Vietnam and Russia and Taiwan as of today, March 19. Flights to Malaysia have also been suspended everywhere as the Malaysian government closed their borders for a two-week lockdown.

Jetstar Asia also announced that they will stop all operations from March 23 to April 15 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

[Photo via Dan Tri]

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