337 Vietnamese stranded in UK fly home

By Nguyen Quy   June 4, 2020 | 03:30 am PT
337 Vietnamese stranded in UK fly home
Vietnamese citizens repatriated from the U.K. wait to make health declarations at Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC, June 4 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Airlines.
A special flight repatriated 337 Vietnamese from the U.K., the world’s fifth largest Covid-19 hotspot, on Thursday amid eased lockdown measures.

A Vietnam Airlines flight departed from Heathrow International Airport in London and landed at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City at 10:50 a.m. Thursday with passengers onboard including children, students, the elderly and sick along with a number of tourists whose U.K. visas had expired but were previously unable to leave due to border closures.

After declaring their health status, all cabin crew and passengers were taken to centralized quarantine facilities in HCMC and Dong Nai Province that neighbors the city. They will be tested for Covid-19 several times during the 14-day period.

The flight to London carried 200 kg of face masks donated by the British Embassy in Vietnam to the government and people in the U.K.

The U.K. is now the world’s fifth largest Covid-19 hub, with over 279,000 infections and nearly 40,000 deaths. On March 23, Prime Minister Boris Johnson placed the U.K. on lockdown, meaning all but essential businesses were to close with immediate effect, though measures were relaxed on June 1.

A 43-year-old British pilot for national carrier Vietnam Airlines is Vietnam's most critical Covid-19 patient. He was admitted on March 18 and declared free of the novel coronavirus on May 20. The pilot regained consciousness a week later and is receiving further treatment in HCMC.

In the last few months, several special flights have repatriated thousands of Vietnamese from several countries including Canada, France, Japan, Russia, the UAE and the U.S., alongside other Southeast Asian hotspots. Passengers paid their own fares.

Vietnam began its 49th day Thursday without community transmission caused by the novel coronavirus and has confirmed 328 Covid-19 cases so far, of whom 302 have recovered, leaving 26 active.

Officials have warned the risk of community infection in Vietnam remains high as more foreign specialists, highly skilled workers and Vietnamese citizens stranded overseas due to the pandemic are allowed to enter Vietnam.

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