Vietnam repatriates over 500 stranded citizens from US, Europe

By Nguyen Quy   May 16, 2020 | 06:28 am PT
Vietnam repatriates over 500 stranded citizens from US, Europe
Vietnamese repatriated from Europe make health declarations after landing at Da Nang International Airport, May 16, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Vietnam is bringing home on special flights more than 500 citizens stranded in Europe and the U.S., current epicenters of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Vietnam Airlines flight carrying nearly 200 citizens from Europe landed at the Da Nang International Airport in central Vietnam Saturday. Passengers included students under the age of 18, seniors, tourists whose visas had expired, and workers who had lost their jobs.

Amid travel restrictions to contain the spread of the Covid-19 crisis, European countries have restricted transportation. The Vietnam Airlines flight was arranged to land at Frankfurt International Airport in Germany and the Madrid Barajas International Airport in Spain to take on as many Vietnamese citizens as possible, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

All passengers underwent medical checks before boarding and wore face masks throughout the flight. They submitted health declarations and were quarantined on arrival. Their samples have been taken for testing.

Europe has so far recorded nearly 1.7 million infections and over 160,000 deaths, with Spain having the highest number of infections at nearly 275,000.

Another 345 Vietnamese citizens are expected reach home Saturday night, flying from Washington D.C. in the U.S.

The flight carrying them took off at 4:40 a.m. (local time) from the Dulles International Airport and is scheduled to land Saturday night at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi.

This will be the second flight to repatriate citizens from the U.S., following one that brought back 340 citizens on May 8, making history as the first Vietnamese carrier to fly directly to and from the U.S.

Over 2.1 million Vietnamese currently live in the U.S., mainly in California.

Almost 1.4 million have been infected with the virus in the U.S., and nearly 88,000 have died.

In the last few months, several special flights have repatriated thousands of Vietnamese from several countries and territories including Canada, France, Japan, Russia, the UAE and the U.S., and other Southeast Asian counries. Passengers paid their own fares.

Civil aviation authorities have said around 4,300 more will be repatriated on 15 special flights by mid-June.

Vietnam's infection tally rose to 318 after four new cases were confirmed Saturday evening, including one returning from Cambodia, another from the Philippines and two from Russia.

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