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Vietnam to quarantine visitors in coronavirus battle

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HANOI(Reuters) - Vietnam will stop issuing new visas for foreign nationals, state media said on Tuesday, and the government said it would quarantine visitors from countries including the United States in the fight against the coronavirus.

Weeks after declaring the recovery of all 16 of its coronavirus sufferers, the Southeast Asian nation has confirmed 61 infections, but no deaths, after authorities announced a surge in infections from overseas.

“The government sees the visa suspension policy as an effective measure to constrain the rapid spread of the virus, given many countries are now at high risk of infection,” the state-run Nhan Dan newspaper said.

“It’s temporary. The restriction will be in place for 15 to 30 days,” it added, without saying when the ban would take effect.

In a statement published late on Tuesday, Vietnam’s government said it would introduce mandatory quarantine for visitors from the United States, Europe and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

The statement did not say when it would introduce the quarantine measures.

Hanoi has denied entry to visitors from Europe’s Schengen visa-free area and Britain from Sunday, and ordered mandatory quarantine and testing for all arrivals from virus-hit areas.

Schools stayed shut nationwide on Tuesday. Authorities have ordered the closure of cinemas, clubs and bars, massage parlours, karaoke lounges and online game centres in urban areas until the end of March.

The government has advised Vietnamese to call off large gatherings and ordered them to wear masks in public places.

Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by James Pearson, Clarence Fernandez and Timothy Heritage