In Vietnam, a Proud Streak Comes to an End

Nation records first death after 99 straight days with no new cases
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2020 8:33 AM CDT
Vietnam Seemed to Beat the Virus, Until Now
People wait in line for COVID-19 test in Hanoi, Vietnam, Friday. Vietnam reported on Friday the country's first death of a person with the coronavirus.   (AP Photo/Hau Dinh)

Vietnam has stood out over the last few months because of an impressive number in regard to the coronavirus: zero. As in, the nation of nearly 100 million people had recorded no deaths attributed to COVID-19. That changed on Friday, reports the BBC. State media says a 70-year-old man from the central city of Hoi An died from the virus, which he appears to have contracted in the popular holiday destination of Danang, per Reuters. The death is a jolt to the country that had won international praise for its handling of the pandemic—it acted aggressively before its first confirmed case by, among other things, closing its borders. In fact, Vietnam went 99 straight days without registering a new case before the streak ended last weekend, reports the South China Morning Post.

The source of the outbreak is not known, but it appears to have started in Danang before spreading to other parts of the country. Health officials reported 82 new cases on Friday, the biggest total yet. The capital of Hanoi is under new restrictions, with bars and nightclubs shut down and large gatherings prohibited. By the count of Johns Hopkins, the nation still has only 509 cases, though the figure could jump sharply in the coming days and weeks. The long streak without new cases appeared to have created a sense of complacency among residents, according to the SCMP. It talks to a woman who recently returned to Ho Chi Minh City from a three-day holiday in Danang, a trip during which she and her family did not wear masks or practice social distancing because it seemed the threat was over. They are now self-quarantining for 14 days, so far without symptoms. (More Vietnam stories.)

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