Chased by pandemic, thousands of Vietnamese rush to catch last-minute flights home

By Doan Loan   March 20, 2020 | 03:00 am PT
Chased by pandemic, thousands of Vietnamese rush to catch last-minute flights home
People fill out health declarations upon arriving at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, March 18, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
25 international flights are set to bring 2,585 passengers to Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport on Friday, up 600 compared to Thursday.

Of the total flights, 13 will carry over 1,180 to the airport from areas that have been hit by the deadly coronavirus that causes Covid-19, and most passengers are Vietnamese, said Nguyen Huy Duong, deputy director at Noi Bai airport.

Explaining for the high number of passengers coming, he said many Vietnamese in Europe and other Southeast Asians nations have been rushing home to slip through the lockdown to be applied in the countries they are staying in, and before airlines suspend their services.

On Thursday, more than 1,910 people had entered Vietnam at Noi Bai. Of them, 724 Vietnamese and 10 foreigners had been sent to quarantine at centralized facilities.

Last week, Noi Bai received an average 1,000-1,500 passengers coming from abroad each day.

Starting Thursday, passengers arriving at the airport have submited health declarations and have samples taken for Covid-19 tests in quarantine zones instead of doing that directly at the airport as before to reduce congestion.

The airport has opened another arrival gate and arrange routes in such manner that the military is able to reach passengers faster and escort them to quarantine zones.

Those arriving from stricken areas will be sent to centralized camps where they will have their samples taken and fill out the health declarations.

Those who come from clean areas will complete the health declarations at the airport, either via printed documents or their smartphones.

After that step, they will have their body temperature checked before turning to the customs procedures, where officers will go through their passports to make sure they had not come from and gone through any stricken areas. In case they did, they will be sent to quarantine zones.

At a meeting Thursday, Ho Chi Minh City authorities informed that the city’s Tan Son Nhat Airport could receive about 17,000 people, mostly Vietnamese, in the next 10 days.

National carrier Vietnam Airlines have announced to suspend all international flights in the coming days.

The country has confirmed 87 Covid-19 cases, with the latest being two nurses at a hospital in Hanoi.

The Covid-19 pandemic has spread to 182 countries and territories, killing over 10,000 people.

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