More than 10,000 people in villages near Hanoi were placed under quarantine yesterday after six cases of COVID-19 were discovered there, authorities said.
In the first mass quarantine outside of China since the virus emerged in Wuhan in late December last year, the Son Loi farming region about 40km from Hanoi is be locked down for 20 days, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health said.
Checkpoints have been set up around the six villages that make up Son Loi, a team of reporters on the outskirts of the area in Binh Xuyen District said.
Officials wearing protective suits sprayed disinfectant on vehicles, while police warned people wanting to enter the area that while they would be allowed in, they would not be able to leave.
The order came after the ministry reported that five people have been infected with the virus. It later announced a sixth case.
They all originated from a female worker who was sent to Wuhan for training. The disease then spread to her family and her neighbors, including a three-month-old baby.
So far, only the female worker has fully recovered and been discharged from the hospital, the ministry said, while the others remain in a “stable” condition.
The Son Loi area covers about 1,000 hectares of farmland. Many of its 10,600 residents also commute to nearby factories for work.
Villager Tran Van Minh said that authorities had already advised them to avoid large gatherings, though the cluster of infections in his village likely began due to Tet Lunar New Year celebrations.
Authorities in Son Loi began handing out masks after Tet ended on Jan. 30. Since then children and elderly have largely been confined to their homes.
Vietnam has 16 COVID-19 cases, including those in Son Loi.
It has banned all flights to and from mainland China.
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