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Coronavirus fears haunt Vietnam and Myanmar border towns

Communities reeling from lack of Chinese visitors race to protect themselves

Vietnamese porters carry goods from China in the border city of Mong Cai in 2018. The coronavirus crisis is reverberating in this and other border towns.   © Reuters

HANOI/YANGON -- Truong Phan cannot tear himself away from news of the coronavirus outbreak for long. "I keep checking the situation every hour," said the owner of a small trading company in Vietnam's northern city of Mong Cai, on the border with China.

Truong's family abandoned their plans to cross the border for the Lunar New Year holidays, known as Tet in Vietnam, at the last minute. Instead, they opted for the rolling hills of the Vietnamese province of Son La, reasoning that few Chinese visitors go there this time of year.

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