Coronavirus fears remove funnel test for drunk driving in Vietnam

By Ba Do   February 3, 2020 | 01:06 am PT
Coronavirus fears remove funnel test for drunk driving in Vietnam
A traffic police checks alcohol level in breath of a driver in Hanoi, January 2020, through a disposable mouthpiece. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
The deadly new coronavirus crisis has prompted traffic police to cut the first step of testing drivers’ alcohol breath – blowing into a funnel.

With the novel coronavirus – nCoV – confirmed being transmitted from human to human through surfaces upon which respiratory droplets land, the traffic police department under the Ministry of Public Security has directed that the single-use mouthpieces are used to measure alcohol breath.

It says each used mouthpiece is disposed of in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s regulations.

Before the new regulation, alcohol breath testing involved two steps. The drivers were made to blow into a funnel from a short distance to tell whether or not there was alcohol in their breath, and in the event the first test was positive, the next step was resorted to - holding a disposable mouthpiece to measure the level of alcohol.

This meant that many drivers were being asked to blow into the same funnel at different times, said senior lieutenant-colonel Nguyen Quang Nhat, who heads an investigative branch of the general traffic department.

"However, with the latest order, traffic police will skip the funnel step and go directly to having drivers use the disposable mouthpiece. The police will have to wear face masks during the testing process," he said.

A traffic police offer lets a driver blow into a funnel to see if there is alcohol in his breath on Hanoi-Hai Phong Expressway in northern Vietnam January 25, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Quang

A traffic police office asks a driver on the Hanoi-Hai Phong Expressway in northern Vietnam to blow into a funnel to test if there is alcohol in his breath, January 25, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Quang.

In the central province of Nghe An, the nCoV epidemic has prompted authorities to provide an additional instruction to local traffic police officers – apply the disposable mouthpiece test sparingly, stopping drivers for it only when "really needed."

Vietnam has taken stronger action against drunk driving since the beginning of this year, doubling penalties for violations.

Cyclists and electric bicycle riders found driving under the influence of alcohol face fines of VND400,000-600,000 ($17-26); motorcyclists and car drivers, VND6-8 million and VND30-40 million ($1,394-1,725); and everyone caught driving under the influence could have their driving licenses suspended for 22-24 months.

Vietnam confirmed its eighth nCoV infection Monday morning after reporting the first cases on January 23. Of these, one woman has been cured and discharged from the hospital.

The country declared the novel coronavirus an epidemic on Saturday.

The nCoV death toll has reached 362 – 361 in China and one in the Philippines. More than 17,400 have been infected and 523 have recovered by Monday afternoon.

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