HCMC flight attendant eats out, attends university during Covid-19 self-quarantine

By Huu Cong   December 1, 2020 | 11:08 pm PT
HCMC flight attendant eats out, attends university during Covid-19 self-quarantine
Students at the Hutech University in HCMC. Photo courtesy of the Tien Phong Newspaper.
A Vietnam Airlines flight attendant in HCMC, who sparked Vietnam's recent string of Covid-19 community transmissions, said he breached self-isolation protocols to eat out and attend university.

The flight attendant, "Patient 1342", infected his friend, a 32-year-old English teacher in HCMC who was confirmed infected Monday, breaking Vietnam's 89-day streak of no community transmission. The teacher went on to infect at least two others, his one-year-old nephew and a 28-year-old student, both confirmed community transmission cases.

The attendant said he left home on Tan Binh District's Bach Dang Street, at noon on November 21 to eat out on Phu Nhuan District's Le Van Sy Street. He then visited Hutech University in Binh Thanh District in the morning and afternoon of November 22, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long told a government meeting Wednesday.

"Hutech University has since been locked down and its students required to stay home," said Long, adding the flight attendant has seriously violated Covid-19 quarantine measures to become a community transmission source.

Over 30,000 students at Hutech have been let off class until at least December 6, Vice Principal Nguyen Quoc Anh was reported as saying.

Besides Hutech, Ton Duc Thang University and HCMC University of Foreign Languages – Information Technology (Huflit) have also let their students stay home at least until December 6.

A student at Ton Duc Thang has enrolled in classes of the infected English teacher, while the Huflit was situated in close proximity with a coffee shop and a karaoke parlor where the English teacher has been to.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has requested relevant authorities to ramp up Covid-19 prevention measures and increase monitoring. Those who violate preventive measures must be reprimanded and dealt with properly, he added.

The flight attendant, 28, had returned to Vietnam from Japan on November 14 and was quarantined for four days at a facility managed by Vietnam Airlines in HCMC. After two tests showed he was negative for the coronavirus, he was released and asked to isolate himself at home.

On November 29, the flight attendant tested positive for the virus, and the very next day, his English teacher friend followed suit.

Nguyen Tan Binh, director of HCMC’s health department, said "Patient 1342" had not just violated rules of self-quarantine at home, but also at the centralized camp of Vietnam Airlines. He had intruded into the space of another flight crew and contracted the virus from another attendant who had been confirmed as "Patient 1325" on November 26.

Vietnam has recorded 1,351 Covid-19 cases so far, 118 still active. Thirty-five people have succumbed to the disease, many of them elderly patients with underlying conditions like diabetes or kidney failure.

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