Vietnam News

Vietnam halts flights from countries infected by COVID-19 variants

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To fend off recently discovered variants of COVID-19, Vietnam has suspended inbound flights from countries with the viral mutations.

At least two new strains of the coronavirus have been identified thus far, both of which appear to be more contagious than the original. 

Several nations have reported cases of a variant which was first identified in South Africa. However, the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, is the one that has the world worried. 

Since causing a massive spike in British COVID-19 cases, the B.1.1.7 mutation has shown up in over 30 other countries.

These include Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

Thus far, Vietnam has reported 1,497 COVID-19 cases, and 35 deaths, a small number when compared to other less prepared countries. This is likely due to the country’s swift response to the pandemic, which saw national borders effectively shut by late March 2020.

Vietnam also conducted mass testing, thorough contact tracing, and a multi-faceted public health campaign in order to combat COVID-19. The country’s government clearly intends to maintain its strong stance against the virus and its more transmissible variants. 

While international commercial flights to Vietnam have been suspended since March 2020, repatriation flights bringing home Vietnamese citizens have been ongoing. Even then, all returning citizens have had to spend two weeks in quarantine before rejoining society.

Such repatriation flights from countries with cases of the COVID-19 variant will no longer be granted passage back into Vietnam. However, some exceptions will be made for special flights carrying foreign experts and investors into the country.

Vietnam’s Health Ministry released a statement about the decision, which it said will initially begin with flights from Britain and South Africa. 

“The risk for the disease to penetrate and spread in Vietnam is very high, especially from people entering from infected countries,” the statement read.

The Health Ministry also revealed that Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has tasked authorities with creating a list of other countries that will be impacted by the suspension of flights. In addition, the Prime Minister has ordered the authorities to tighten control of Vietnam’s quarantine facilities.

Australia has already documented cases of the new COVID-19 variant, with the B.1.1.7 variant from the UK showing up in three arrivals quarantined in Perth. Considering Vietnam’s plans, Australia could be one of the next countries impacted by Vietnam’s growing flights blacklist.

By Elise Kelly – The Market Herald (.ca) – January 6, 2021

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