Vietnam locks down its 3rd largest city as virus cases grow

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The once crowded beach is empty following a lockdown order in Da Nang, Vietnam, on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Vietnam on Tuesday locked down its third-largest city for two weeks after more than a dozen cases of COVID-19 were found in a hospital. (AP Photo/Luke Groves)

HANOI – Vietnam on Tuesday locked down its third-largest city for two weeks after 22 cases of COVID-19 were found linked to a hospital, the government said.

The new cases in the central city of Da Nang are the first confirmed local transmissions of the virus in the country in over three months.

Public transport into and out of Da Nang was canceled. Over the weekend, thousands of mostly Vietnamese tourists cut short their summer holidays in the popular beach destination. The lockdown dealt a hard blow to the city’s tourism industry, which was just being revived after earlier coronavirus cases mostly subsided at the end of April.

Hotel guests quickly ended their stays and canceled upcoming trips upon the news of the first case, one hotelier said on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

“Our hotel is now empty,” the hotelier said. “But we had to help our guests leave the city when they still had the opportunity yesterday.”

Da Nang beaches, which host some 50,000 people a day, are now closed. Only security personnel were seen on the beaches Tuesday as they patrolled to ensure no one was gathering.

Authorities estimated several thousand people would be stranded by the transportation shutdown and asked hotels to shelter them.

“We did not want to rush to the airport to leave the city because of the risk of being in a crowded place. So we are now stuck here,” said Lien Nguyen, who is traveling with her family of four for their summer vacation.