Vietnam records its first coronavirus death

Vietnam, which has a population of around 95 million, has reported just 509 cases since the pandemic began. Unlike many other countries, Vietnam acted before it even had confirmed cases, closing its borders early to almost all travelers, except returning citizens. Anyone entering the country must quarantine in government facilities for 14 days and undergo testing. And for a while, this approach appeared to be highly effective, with no new local transmissions reported since mid-April.
The communist nation was applauded earlier this year for controlling COVID-19 with strict restrictions on movement, extensive quarantine measures and a robust track-and-trace regime. It was also praised for being able to curb the pandemic completely despite sharing a long border with China.

However recently, Vietnam recorded its first coronavirus death on 31 July, in a devastating blow for a country proud of its zero deaths. The 70-year-old man was from the central city of Hoi An, state media said. No new infections had been reported for more than three months before an outbreak was reported in the nearby resort of Da Nang earlier this week.

But as the news was confirmed, Vietnam will try to carry out an aggressive prevention strategy to contain the virus, with many quarantine facilities and mobilizing all means and resources to treat every patient.

After that followed many more cases. Authorities reported 45 new coronavirus cases, marking the biggest daily jump in the country. Vietnam had been the only nation with a large population not to have suffered fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic.

Tens of thousands of tourists from across the country were in the city at the time, many of whom believed the threat from coronavirus had passed. The government initially closed the city to visitors, before ordering a total local lockdown.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc warned that every province and city in the country following the outbreak in Da Nang. “We have to act more swiftly and more fiercely in order to control the outbreak,” state media quoted him as saying.

Talking to BBC Vietnamese Service, Dr Luong Ngoc Khue, vice-director of Treatment Subcommittee under the National Covid-19 Taskforce, said the person “died of heart attack, kidney cancer, high blood pressure and other severe diseases while positive for coronavirus”.

Dr Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the country’s Administration of Medical Examination and Treatment, said there are at least six other elderly patients with COVID-19 currently in critical condition. All have other underlying illnesses. Health officials announced the country’s highest single daily caseload since the pandemic began. Vietnam reported a daily high of 45 new cases on Friday, all of them connected to the hospital. The new patients, with ages ranging from 27 to 87, are linked to four hospitals and a hotel in Danang. Total infections since the virus resurfaced last Saturday have reached 93, the ministry said in a statement.

Vietnam had been seen as a global success story in combating the coronavirus with zero deaths and no cases of local transmission for 99 days. Some speculate that the government could find it difficult to announce the later deaths from corona, for fear of public embarrassment.

By Karishma G.

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