A staff member assists passengers wearing face masks as they queue up for temperature checks at Da Nang’s international airport on July 27, 2020.

HOANG KHANH/AFP via Getty Images

Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people from the coastal city of Da Nang after a small coronavirus outbreak was found.

A total of 15 cases have been confirmed since Saturday, with 11 of them confirmed on Monday. It breaks the country’s 99-day streak of having no cases.

The evacuation is an unusual move. Health authorities in most countries favor keeping people in one place to wait out outbreaks. 

Vietnam dodged a major coronavirus outbreak by stamping out the virus early on. As of Tuesday, it has recorded 431 cases and no deaths.

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Vietnam abruptly announced plans to evacuate 80,000 people from the coastal city of Da Nang following a new, but small, outbreak of new coronavirus cases.

The first of the new cases was identified on Saturday, ending the country’s 99-day streak without any new cases.

On Monday, authorities confirmed 11 more people had tested positive for the coronavirus.  

From Tuesday until Friday, 100 flights will leave Da Nang each day for 11 other Vietnamese cities, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Monday.

No flights will land in Da Nang for 15 days, all nonessential businesses will close, and mandatory social distancing rules have been reintroduced in the city, he added.

The hospitals where the 15 new patients are being treated have also been placed under lockdown. 

While its borders are still closed to foreign tourists, domestic tourism is booming, with many Vietnamese citizens flocking to the beaches of Da Nang.

People wearing protective face masks walk along My Khe beach in Da Nang on July 28, 2020.

People wearing protective face masks walk along My Khe beach in Da Nang on July 28, 2020,

Vietnam is among the small number of countries that have managed to avoid a major outbreak. The World Health Organization has previously singled out Vietnam for its efforts.

Though Vietnam was one of the first countries to see ac oronavirus outbreak, it has only recorded a total of 431 cases, according to the Ministry of Health. No one has died of the virus.

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Mass testing and strict quarantines have been cited as the reason for Vietnam’s success, but the evacuation of 80,000 people is an unusual tactic.

Authorities across the world have overwhelmingly chosen to enforce local lockdowns, curfews, track-and-trace systems, and mass testing drives to stop the spread of the virus.

A Vietnamese health worker stands guard at a disease checkpoint of Son Loi commune in Vinh Phuc province on February 12, 2020. Vietnamese authorities quarantined an entire commune for 20 days earlier this year.

Kham/Reuters

Removing a football stadium’s worth of people is no mean feat, and relocating 80,000 people across the country runs the risk of reintroducing the virus in other cities.

Once concerning issue for Vietnamese heath authorities is that the new cases appear to be a new, more potent strain of the novel coronavirus. It is not yet clear whether this strain is more or less contagious.

Health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long said it had not been seen in Vietnam before Saturday, the BBC reported.

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