Vietnam had been seen as a global success story in combating the coronavirus, with no confirmed cases of local transmission for 99 days. But a week ago, an outbreak began at a Da Nang hospital. It has spread to six parts of the country, including three of the largest cities, forcing authorities to reimpose virus restrictions.
The Health Ministry said the latest fatalities included a 68-year-old woman who was treated for blood cancer and a 61-year-old man who suffered septic shock and chronic kidney failure. The country’s first COVID-19 death was a 70-year-old man who was admitted with a kidney illness. All three died in a hospital in Da Nang.
Fifteen other patients with COVID-19 are in critical condition, officials said. All have other underlying illnesses.
Vietnam has now confirmed 586 cases of the virus, but experts worry the actual number could be far higher.
In Hanoi, the capital, where two people have tested positive after returning from Da Nang, over 100 clinics have been set up with test kits to detect the virus. Hanoi has tested a third of the 54,000 people returning from Da Nang.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s southern hub, five people who returned from Da Nang have tested positive for the virus. The city is testing some 20,000 other returnees.
As the number of case continues to increase, Da Nang has tightened security and set up more checkpoints to prevent people from leaving or entering the city, which has been in lockdown since Tuesday.
The city on Friday began setting up a makeshift hospital in a sports auditorium and doctors have been mobilized from other cities to help.
Hoi An, an ancient town and top tourist destination known for its charming old houses 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Da Nang, stopped allowing visitors on Thursday because of the outbreak. Its pedestrian streets, adorned with lanterns, were empty and nonessential services and gatherings were banned.
This story has been corrected to show that three people in Vietnam have died from the coronavirus, not two.