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Vietnam Takes Dramatic Measures to Halt Coronavirus Spread

As the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to rage in China, Vietnam has taken extensive steps in recent days to stem its spread here.

In one of the most recent developments, Tuoi Tre reports that the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training has received approval to extend public school closures by another week.

This means students would return to class on February 16, instead of February 9. According to Zing, Quang Ngai, Dong Thap and Dong Nai provinces had already decided to keep public schools closed next week at the time of writing. In all of Vietnam, only schools in Nghe An and Ben Tre have reopened since Tet.

Meanwhile, AFP reports that field hospitals housing thousands of beds are being set up nationwide, though the number of confirmed infections remains low, at just 12. Two facilities in Saigon will feature 500 beds, while in Hanoi, two military bases will house around 950 Vietnamese nationals expected to be returned from China during quarantine procedures.

Facilities in the far north with 3,000 beds are also being prepared, while central Vietnam is creating space for 3,700 beds.

It has also been announced that anyone who thinks they have the virus will be tested for free anywhere in Vietnam, as the Vietnam Social Insurance health fund will fund tests for fever, coughing and breathing problems.

Further preventative steps are being taken at the country's international airports and border crossings, as anyone entering Vietnam from China will be quarantined for 14 days, under orders from Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

These moves come as the death toll from the virus in China has hit 563, and the number of confirmed cases has skyrocketed to 28,018. Bloomberg reports that the Wuhan Institute of Virology has applied for a patent to use an antiviral drug called remdesivir to treat the infection, as its spread has led Chinese authorities to place tens of millions of people under strict lockdown conditions.

Here in Vietnam, three of the individuals who tested positive for the virus have recovered and been released from the hospital, while as of this writing 78 people nationwide are in quarantine at a hospital awaiting test results and over 400 other people are in home quarantine after coming into contact with the confirmed cases.

[Top photo via Sapo]

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