Vietnam suspends inbound flights from Covid-19 variant hosts

By Hoang Thuy, Viet Tuan   January 5, 2021 | 05:18 am PT
Vietnam suspends inbound flights from Covid-19 variant hosts
Vietnamese people on a repatriation flight from Thailand, August 2020. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Vietnamese PM has banned flights from countries and territories like the U.K. and South Africa that have recorded mutations of the new coronavirus.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said Tuesday that the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health and Transport have to coordinate with each other and draw up a list of countries and territories that this new regulation will apply to.

For now, the list includes U.K. and South Africa, where two different variants of the virus have been found. The one found in the U.K. early last month is said to be 70 percent more transmissible than the old one. Britain’s health minister said Monday that the mutation found recently in South Africa is even more problematic.

PM Phuc issued the order after the health ministry proposed Monday that inbound flights are suspended or limited from countries and territories with the new, more contagious coronavirus strains.

The proposal was submitted after the ministry confirmed Saturday that a 44-year-old Vietnamese woman returning home from Britain and quarantined in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh upon arrival was infected with the new virus strain.

Over 40 countries and territories in Europe, Asia, South America, the Caribbean and the Middle East have restricted travel from the U.K. and, in some cases, travel from other countries that have documented cases with the virus variant.

The PM’s statement noted that the pandemic is developing in more complicated ways. The virus was spreading more quickly with around 600,000 new infections and 6,000 deaths recorded each day, he said.

The U.K. variant has been found in 38 countries so far.

Since Vietnam suspended inbound international flights late March, the government has organized around 260 repatriation flights to bring Vietnamese citizens back from 59 countries and territories, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition to repatriation flights, some special flights carrying foreign experts and investors have also been allowed to fly into Vietnam.

Vietnam, with a population of 96 million, has recorded 1,504 Covid-19 infections and 35 deaths to date.

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