Vietnam airlifts 80,000 tourists as coronavirus hits city

Vietnam today began evacuating 80,000 people from a tourism hotspot after the country recorded its first locally transmitted coronavirus infections in three months.

The evacuation of mostly domestic tourists from Da Nang will take at least four days with domestic airlines operating around 100 flights daily.

Officials confirmed the first new community infections on Saturday, and another three cases yesterday, all in or around the central city. Residents have been told to implement social distancing and non-essential services have been closed.

Vietnam’s hardline approach to the pandemic, which has included an aggressive and widespread testing programme, has been credited with keeping its total tally of reported infections to just 420, with no deaths.

The country is still closed to foreign tourism but domestic travellers have been taking advantage of discounted flights and holiday packages.

A Scottish pilot who was Vietnam’s most critically ill Covid-19 patient today warned others not to be “blasé” about the risks of the virus.

Stephen Cameron, 42, from Motherwell, was working for national carrier Vietnam Airlines when he tested positive in March and ended up spending 65 days on life support. “People can’t be blasé about this until we have eradicated it,” he told the BBC.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong is to ban restaurant dining and make masks compulsory in public places for one week from Wednesday.

The city is battling an outbreak that has infected more than 1,000 people in the last two weeks. The measures are an extension of a previous ban on eating out after 6pm, while it was already mandatory to wear masks on public transport.

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Australia’s badly hit Victoria state has suffered its worst day of the pandemic with a record 532 new Covid-19 cases.

Premier Daniel Andrews warned that a six-week lockdown in Melbourne would have to remain while infected people continued to go to work. “This is what is driving these numbers up and the lockdown will not end until people stop going to work with symptoms and instead go and get tested,” he said.

In the US, nearly 60,000 more infections were reported yesterday, pushing the total to more than 4.2 million, including 143,000 deaths.



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