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Vietnamese fleeing virus found in refrigerated truck – media

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FILE PHOTO: Vietnam police officers inspect authorised travel documents of commuters at a check point during the first day of the extended lockdown in Hanoi, Vietnam, Sept 6, 2021. (Reuters)

Fifteen people including a seven-year-old boy have been found inside a refrigerated truck in Vietnam after they tried to escape areas of the south badly hit by Covid-19, state media said Monday.

Vietnam has been battling a devastating fourth wave of the virus since April and tens of millions of people are under stay-at-home orders, with domestic travel largely forbidden.

On Sunday police in Binh Thuan province discovered the group of 15 inside a vehicle that had aroused suspicion as it tried to pass a virus checkpoint on its way north, Ho Chi Minh City’s Phap Luat online newspaper said.

“Police were so surprised to see 15 people at the back of the truck… Some of them were sweating and showed symptoms of breath shortness,” the report said, adding the passengers were carrying negative Covid test certificates.

A passenger said they had asked the driver to turn off the truck’s refrigeration system as it had been too cold.

“We knew it is a huge risk and very dangerous to stay in a closed frozen truck, but we faced a higher risk if we were infected with the virus,” the report quoted a man travelling with his seven-year-old son as saying.

According to the report, the group travelled dozens of kilometres in the sealed truck from southern Dong Nai province, an industrial area that has recorded more than 35,000 Covid-19 cases and 320 deaths.

The province has been in total lockdown since early July and makeshift hospitals have been set up to treat tens of thousands of infected patients.

The people in the truck were reportedly trying to reach their homes in central Vietnam.

Vietnam has suspended all public road and air transport links from the south, which has been hit the hardest by the country’s most severe wave of the pandemic so far.

The country has reported more than 610,000 virus cases, with more than 11,400 deaths.

In October 2019, 31 men and eight women from Vietnam, were found dead in a refrigerated truck near London, highlighting the enormous risks of illegal migration to Europe and sparking an international outcry.

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