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Vietnam expands lockdown as COVID-19 infections hit record height

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VIETNAM said it had widened lockdown measures in its industrialised north on Tuesday, to combat its biggest COVID-19 outbreak so far, as authorities reported a daily record in new cases that was more than double the previous high.

The Health Ministry announced 457 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, the biggest jump since the 190 cases seen on May 16, driven by clusters in factory zones in two northern provinces.

Bac Ninh, home to production facilities of Samsung Electronics, started a curfew and other travel restrictions from Tuesday, state media reported.

That followed the temporary closure of four industrial parks, including three with Foxconn facilities, by authorities in neighbouring Bac Giang province.

The outbreak could be a big challenge for Vietnam, which successfully contained earlier, smaller outbreaks and avoided the level of economic damage suffered by many of its neighbours.

Bac Ninh and Bac Giang are the epicentre of the new outbreak that has infected more than 2,800 people since late April, including hundreds of factory workers.

Authorities say the outbreak, which accounts for nearly half of Vietnam’s overall cases, has spread to more than 30 of its 63 cities and provinces.

The capital Hanoi on Tuesday, shut down restaurants and banned gatherings at public areas, including physical exercises in parks. Hanoi has recorded 220 cases since late April.

Most of cases on Tuesday were at factories in Bac Giang, where authorities said testing had been ramped up and all workers’ dormitories put in isolation.

Vietnam has reported at least 5,860 infections in total, with 44 deaths. It has yet to start mass inoculations against the coronavirus, with about 1 million doses of vaccines administered so far, mainly to frontline workers.

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