A cruise ship has been denied permission to dock in Saigon over fears some of its 423 passengers could be carrying the new coronavirus.
Bahamian-flagged Silver Spirit, owned by Silversea Cruises, carrying many Italian passengers and crew members, was scheduled to visit Ho Chi Minh City and other popular tourist destinations on Friday.
But city authorities and the Maritime Administration decided against allowing it to berth amid the worsening of the Covid-19 situation in Europe and Vietnam diagnosing 28 new cases in the past week, many of them foreigners.
Italy is one of the worst-hit countries with more than 12,400 infection cases and 827 deaths.
The Silver Spirit changed its itinerary and went to another country.
Of the 28 new patients in Vietnam, one is in Saigon. It is a 24-year-old woman who had met Nguyen Hong Nhung, Hanoi's first Covid-19 patient and Vietnam's 17th, at a party in London last month. She was put on a private plane to Saigon on Monday and tested positive the same day.
Earlier 24 international cruise ships canceled plans to dock at Chan May Port in Thua Thien-Hue Province over Covid-19 concerns.
Aida Vita, operated by German company AIDA Cruises, was denied permission to dock in Quang Ninh Province on February 13, the day Vietnam confirmed its 16th patient, over fears passengers could be infected.
This earned Quang Ninh authorities a reprimand from Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam. Warning other localities not to repeat the act, Dam said while they need to strictly implement immigration and quarantine procedures with respect to foreign visitors and vehicles coming from epidemic-affected areas, they must ensure these do not affect tourism and business activities.
But developments related to the epidemic since March 6 have forced the Vietnamese government to take tougher measures to contain it, including suspending visa waivers for citizens of eight European countries and reducing the frequency of flights to Europe.
It has issued several travel bans, cancelled flights to epidemic-hit areas and imposed strict quarantine requirements for people coming from affected countries and territories.
Vietnam had recorded 44 Covid-19 cases as of Friday morning, of which 16 were discharged weeks ago. The country had gone 22 days without any new infection until March 6. Since then 28 infection cases have been confirmed.
The Covid-19 outbreak has spread to 124 countries and territories around the world, killing over 4,600 people.