Vietnam PM says next 10 days 'critical' in virus fight

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam’s Prime Minister said on Wednesday that the next 10 days would be critical in the Southeast Asian country’s fight against a new coronavirus outbreak, which resurfaced late last month after three months of no domestic cases.

FILE PHOTO: Healthcare workers wearing protective hazmat suits are seen inside the military hospital 17 amid of spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Da Nang city, Vietnam August 4, 2020. Vo Van Dung/VNA via REUTERS

Vietnam was lauded for suppressing an earlier contagion through aggressive testing, contact-tracing and quarantining, but it is now racing to control infections in multiple locations linked to the popular holiday city of Danang, where a new outbreak was detected on July 25.

“Note that the period from this week to the middle of next week is critical,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Wednesday, according to a government statement.

“Which measures should we continue to implement to win against the virus? Which lessons have we learnt from this current outbreak?”, said Phuc.

Vietnam reported 17 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, taking its total cases to 880, with 17 deaths. All fatalities stemmed from the new outbreak.

One of the new infections was in the capital Hanoi and had no clear link to Danang, the health ministry said, in a development that could complicate efforts to track and control the spread.

Phuc had on Friday warned the risk of a wider spread was “very high” and called for a more determined containment fight.

The majority of recent cases were in Danang, home to 1.1 million people, where a city-wide lockdown was extended indefinitely on Tuesday.

A sports stadium converted into a 1,000-bed field hospital received its first COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, many from three hospitals central to Danang’s outbreak.

Phuc on Wednesday characterised actions taken by the authorities to combat the current infection wave as better than previous outbreaks.

People had also reacted more calmly, despite the sudden re-emergence of the virus, he said.

Phuc had previously said that early August would be the decisive period to prevent a large-scale spread.

Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by James Pearson and Martin Petty