In just days, Vietnam shifts from virus-free paradise to panic
HANOI, July 30: There had been so few coronavirus cases in Vietnam that every patient was known by a number: Patient 17 brought the virus back from Europe after an initial wave of infections from Wuhan. Patient 91, a British pilot, almost died.
Now there is a new number that has become an unwelcome marker.
Patient 416, a 57-year-old man in the central city of Danang, tested positive for coronavirus last week after more than three months without a new infection in the Southeast Asian country.
In just over a few days, a total of 47 people linked to Danang have tested positive, signalling the start of a third, untraceable and more concerning wave of infections in a country that had reopened faster than most of the world, confident it had beaten the disease.
The surge has spread to six cities and provinces in six days, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the Central Highlands.
Vietnam's Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, slammed his fist on the table during a meeting on Wednesday in which he warned that the entire country was now at risk of infection.
"Everyone, including health workers, had let their guard down months before the reintroduction of the virus," said Truong Huu Khanh, head of the infectious diseases department at the Nhi Dong I Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
"People had stopped wearing masks in public and some health workers didn't pay enough attention to 'high risk' cases". -REUTERS