Chinese experts cannot return to work on Hanoi metro amid coronavirus fears

By Doan Loan   February 1, 2020 | 10:28 pm PT
Chinese experts cannot return to work on Hanoi metro amid coronavirus fears
The Cat Linh-Ha Dong metro line in Hanoi began a commercial test run for inspection purposes on October 29, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
More than 100 Chinese experts working on Hanoi's first metro line are unable to return to Vietnam after the New Year holidays.

The Chinese government has forbidden its citizens from leaving the country amid the coronavirus epidemic.

The experts are from many provinces and cities in China, where 304 people have been killed so far.

They had returned home to celebrate Lunar New Year with their families and were expected to return to Vietnam and resume work on the Cat Linh-Ha Dong line on Saturday.

At a meeting on Friday Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong instructed ministry agencies and the railway project management board to find a way to bring them back.

The general contractor and supervision consultancy have asked that the experts could resume work after February 8.

But the Chinese government will only issue its next notice on February 9 on whether citizens can leave the country.

Dong said, "If they are allowed to leave by the Chinese authorities, we must do stringent health checks on them to prevent the spread of the infection."

Work on the line is complete, and it is now awaiting commercial runs.

The route runs 13 kilometers from Cat Linh in downtown Dong Da District to Yen Nghia in Ha Dong District.

Another test run for inspection purposes began on October 29 last year.

Work on it started in 2011 and was originally scheduled for completion in 2013, but loan disbursement issues with China that were only resolved in December 2017 and other issues stalled it for years.

The original cost estimate of $552.86 million has also ballooned to more than $868 million, which includes $670 million in loans from China.

Twenty seven countries and territories have reported a total of 14,551 cases.

As of Sunday morning the nCoV death toll had risen to 304, all of them in China.

Vietnam on Saturday declared a public health epidemic after the country recorded six cases of the infection. The seventh case was confirmed on Sunday.

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