340 Vietnamese return home from UK on special flight

By Nguyen Quy   July 12, 2020 | 11:58 pm PT
340 Vietnamese return home from UK on special flight
Vietnamese passengers make health declarations at Van Don Airport in Quang Ninh Province after returning from the U.K. on a repatriation flight, July 13, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A repatriation flight carrying 340 Vietnamese stuck in the U.K., a Covid-19 hotspot, returned Monday morning after transporting a British pilot home.

The Vietnam Airlines flight departed Heathrow International Airport in London and landed at Van Don International Airport in northern Quang Ninh Province. Passengers onboard include 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.

All passengers were required to make health declarations and taken to quarantine facilities.

The flight also carried home a group of Vietnamese medical staff who escorted Stephen Cameron, 43, tagged as Vietnam’s "Patient 91" and the nation’s most critically ill Covid-19 case, on the repatriation journey to the U.K. that departed Hanoi on Saturday night.

He would continue receiving medical care at University Hospital Wishaw in Scotland.

Cameron had been diagnosed with Covid-19 on March 18 after he attended a party at Buddha Bar & Grill, which had later become the biggest Covid-19 hub in Ho Chi Minh City with 19 related cases.

He was cured of the novel coronavirus after two months at the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases, before being transferred to Cho Ray Hospital for organ failure treatment and physical therapy.

He was announced to have fully recovered Monday and left Cho Ray Hospital on Saturday morning, ending 115 days of treatment in Vietnam.

Cameron's treatment attracted global attention as an example of Vietnam’s pandemic success story.

Despite having a population of over 96 million and sharing a border with China, the country has yet to report a single Covid-19 related death. It has gone nearly three months without community transmission caused by the virus, with the active Covid-19 cases standing at 22 after 350 recoveries.

"I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of the Vietnamese people, the dedication and professionalism of the doctors and nurses working at Cho Ray Hospital," Cameron said Saturday morning in a video released by the hospital, where he was last treated.

The U.K. is one of the world’s biggest Covid-19 hotspots with over 280,000 infections and 44,819 deaths so far.

From July 10, England allowed passengers coming from Vietnam to be exempted from 14-day compulsory quarantine thanks to early and effective efforts to contain the pandemic.

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