01/27/2020, 16.18
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Vietnam’s efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus still inadequate

by Ngoc Lan

Two confirmed cases have been reported, but 11 people are under observation. Chinese tourists have crossed the border into Vietnam for the Lunar New Year, but many have decided to stay home believing that this will limit their risk of contracting the virus. For Vietnamese and foreign experts, the country could become the second most infected.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Vietnamese authorities are struggling to contain the new coronavirus outbreak that is spreading across the country.

The latter has led to a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province. However, for ordinary Vietnamese as well as experts, the control measures imposed by the government on the regions bordering with China are inadequate.

So far, two cases of contagion have been confirmed in Vietnam. An unidentified man and son, both from the Chinese province of Hubei, have been placed in an isolated area for treatment at the Chợ Rẫy hospital in Hồ Chí Minh City.

According to the doctors, the two are in stable condition and their fever is dropping. The man’s wife, who is the mother of the boy, is under close surveillance. She travelled to Vietnam with her husband from Wuhan, but hasn’t shown any symptoms of the infection.

Yesterday, the second day of Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, the Health Ministry began a round of meetings to see how best to prevent the contagion from spreading.

An agreement between Vietnam and China has been in place for years allowing Chinese nationals to enter Vietnam without a visa.

For this New Year, many Chinese have already travelled to Vietnam to visit places like Hải Phong, Nha Trang, Đà Lạt, Mũi Né, Đà Nẵng and Phú Quốc.

However, their number is much lower. Tens of thousands have decided to stay home on the belief that this will reduce their risk of contracting the coronavirus.

So far, some over 2,700 cases of pneumonia and 81 deaths have been recorded in China.

On 22 January, a flight from Wuhan with 218 Chinese nationals on board landed in Đà Nẵng. Local health authorities report that they “have not shown any symptoms of the infection;” for this reason, they were able to continue their tour to Nha Trang, a city in Khánh Hòa province.

According to a local business involved in the tourist sector, the high number of Chinese tourists coming to the area makes it hard to implement any controls to fight the spread of the virus.

The authorities are expected to step up efforts against the outbreak. On Saturday, the Health Ministry issued directives to provincial and city authorities along the border with China, requiring travellers who cross the border to make a statement about their medical condition.

Meanwhile, the authorities in Đà Nẵng have announced that 11 Chinese nationals have been placed under observation because they show a high fever. The people in question have had contacts with pneumonia patients.

The group includes six Chinese citizens, four Vietnamese, and another Chinese tourist from Hunan who was intercepted at the airport two days ago.

Several experts, Vietnamese and foreign, are feeding the fears of the population about the lack of effective measures by the Vietnamese government.

In their view, if the authorities do not implement in time policies that protect human health, if they don’t increase controls or close border crossings with China, Vietnam will likely become the second country in terms of coronavirus cases in the Asia-Pacific region.

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