$193,800 in damage caused by HCMC flight attendant breaching Covid-19 protocols

By Phan Anh   March 2, 2021 | 06:00 am PT
$193,800 in damage caused by HCMC flight attendant breaching Covid-19 protocols
Duong Tan Hau (L) listens as a police officer reads a decision to place him under house arrest to be investigated for spreading Covid-19 in the community in HCMC, January 12, 2020. Photo courtesy of the police.
A flight attendant in Ho Chi Minh City under investigation for breaching Covid-19 quarantine protocols has caused around VND4.475 billion ($193,870) in damage, city police said Tuesday.

The police have recommended that Duong Tan Hau, 29, a Vietnam Airlines attendant, to be charged for "spreading dangerous infectious diseases in humans."

Hau breached regulations when staying at the airline’s quarantine facility and after returning home for designated self-isolation. His irresponsibility triggered a community outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to police.

He had returned to Vietnam from Japan on Nov. 14 and was quarantined for four days at a facility managed by Vietnam Airlines in HCMC's Tan Binh District. While there, Hau broke the rules by visiting another quarantine area and ended up contracting the virus from another crew member who had returned from Romania.

As per Vietnam’s protocols on Covid-19 prevention, pilots and attendants need to use dedicated restrooms and their own vehicles once off the plane. No contact is allowed with passengers during flights.

After two tests showed he was negative for the novel coronavirus, Hau was released from the airline’s facility, but told to isolate himself at home for another 14 days.

At home, Hau came in contact with his mother and two friends, including a visiting English language teacher.

On Nov. 29, 15 days after he returned from Japan, he tested positive for the virus, with the teacher following suit the next day. The latter later infected a nephew and a student.

The outbreak broke Vietnam's 89-day and HCMC's 120-day streak without community transmissions at the time.

Hau was placed under criminal investigation for his actions on Jan. 11, and is held under house arrest.

Authorities concluded Hau’s actions had resulted in around VND4.475 billion in damage, including the cost for Covid-19 testing, contact tracing and isolation. The lives of over 2,000 people in HCMC were also affected by quarantine measures.

Hau is the first case in Vietnam where flouting Covid-19 prevention regulations is treated as a crime, but he was not the last. Two others, a man in Mekong Delta’s Vinh Long Province who illegally entered Vietnam and a woman in northern Hai Duong Province who did not declare her travel itinerary nor who she came in contact with, are also being probed on the same charge.

Vietnam has recorded 2,472 Covid-19 cases so far, with 541 still active.

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