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Covid-19 infectee illegally entering Vietnam faces criminal charges

By Huy Phong   January 19, 2021 | 03:40 am PT
Covid-19 infectee illegally entering Vietnam faces criminal charges
The facade of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases Hospital in Vinh Long Province where a man is being treated with Covid-19 after illegally entering Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long.
Vinh Long police have launched a criminal investigation against a man who tested positive for the novel coronavirus after illegally entering Vietnam.

Le Thuc Tri, 33, is being investigated for "spreading dangerous infectious diseases in humans," Colonel Huynh Thanh Mong, deputy chief police officer of the southern province, told the press Tuesday.

Under Vietnamese law, a person can be criminally charged if he/she carries dangerous pathogens capable of infecting humans into the country, a crime punishable by up to 12 years in jail under Vietnam's Penal Code.

Tri is still being treated at the Vinh Long Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases Hospital after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, making it difficult for the police to talk to him and further the investigation.

There is no evidence yet that he had infected anyone.

Tri is the second person to be placed under criminal investigation for spreading the virus that causes Covid-19 in Vietnam. The first is a Vietnam Airlines' flight attendant who allegedly breached Covid-19 quarantine protocols and infected three others. Until then, people flouting Covid-19 prevention regulations were let off with fines.

Tri is in stable health now, with no fever or cough. He and five others had traveled from Myanmar to Thailand on a truck on December 15 and stayed there until leaving for Cambodia on December 23. Then they paid people smugglers to sneak them across the border into Vietnam to avoid quarantining.

On December 24, the six people and three other women crossed into Vietnam through the Long Binh border gate in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang. Tri returned to his house in Vinh Long Province, a 32-year-old woman went to Dong Thap Province. The remaining seven people went to HCMC.

Four of the nine have so far been confirmed infected with the novel coronavirus.

Phan Thanh Hung, 39, suspected of running a human smuggling gang operating between Cambodia and Vietnam, has been arrested in the case with four of his accomplices. The ring is being investigated further.

Vietnam’s success in containing the pandemic has been rooted in its strict quarantining and tracking measures. Thus far, the nation has recorded 1,539 infections and 35 deaths, and has not reported any community transmission for the last 46 days.

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