Visitors flocked to Da Lat City in Vietnam’s Central Highlands on Thursday and Friday for weekend getaways, causing serious congestion at the Chuoi Pass COVID-19 checkpoint on National Highway 20 leading to the city once again.
Vehicles, mostly personal cars, passenger buses, and motorbikes, started congesting National Highway 20 at 10:00 am on Friday, according to functional forces on duty on the route.
According to current regulations, arrivals to Lam Dong Province, home to Da Lat City, from areas at high risk of transmission must present a negative COVID-19 test certificate while others only have to make health declarations through PC-COVID application to pass the checkpoint on the Chuoi Pass.
However, the surge of arrivals and vehicles, from 3,500 - 3,700 vehicles carrying about 5,500 - 5,700 arrivals on normal days to more than 6,000 vehicles with over 10,000 people on Friday, led to heavy workload on officers at the checkpoint.
As it takes about three to five minutes for each arrival to make a health declaration at the roadblock, the venue soon became overcrowding.
This is not the first time that congestion has occurred at the checkpoint as this section is often packed with people scrambling to file health declarations.
|Arrivals file health declarations at a COVID-19 checkpoint at the entrance of Lam Dong Province, Vietnam, December 17, 2021. Photo: Phuc Quan / Tuoi Tre|
A majority of the arrivals checking in at the blockage declared the tourist city of Da Lat as their destination.
The city has seen a surge in visitors in recent years, especially during weekends and holidays.
It was originally designed to accommodate around 90,000 people in the early 20th century, according to news site VnExpress, but its population has now ballooned to nearly 230,000.
The number of visitors to the city exceeded seven million in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Lam Dong online newspaper.
Lam Dong, whose population is about 1.55 million, has documented over 5,578 local infections since the fourth outbreak hit Vietnam on April 27.
Health workers have so far administered over two million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to its adult population, with nearly 1.1 million receiving at least one dose and 935,000 fully vaccinated.