Vietnam to repatriate citizens from China via land borders, airports

By Viet Tuan, Doan Loan, Hoang Tao   February 3, 2020 | 02:00 am PT
Vietnam to repatriate citizens from China via land borders, airports
People enter Vietnam from China via Mong Cai border gate in Quang Ninh Province, January 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Thu Hang.
Vietnamese citizens in China, ground zero of a now-global coronavirus outbreak, will be brought home through certain land borders and airports, said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Sunday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would collaborate with China to return Vietnamese citizens through five land borders in the northern Lang Son, Lao Cai, Quang Ninh, Dien Bien and Ha Giang Provinces, as well as Van Don Airport in Quang Ninh Province and other central and southern airports (excluding international).

Returnees would be quarantined for 14 days, the maximum incubation period, with those suspected to be infected with the novel coronavirus (nCoV) to undergo testing and treatment. Food, accommodation and other equipment would be covered by the Ministry of National Defense.

Around 1,400 Vietnamese workers from six central provinces and localities from Thanh Hoa to Thua Thien-Hue returning from China and other areas affected by the outbreak would also be quarantined for 14 days in military units, Nguyen Si Hoi, deputy commander of Military Region 4 which covers north central Vietnam area, said on Sunday.

"Those who exhibit pneumonia symptoms will be treated in hospitals, while the healthy would be taken to military units for quarantine to see whether they're infected with nCoV," said Hoi, adding hospitals, medical personnel and equipment are on standby to fight possible infections.

It is not yet confirmed exactly when they would be returned however.

Businesses in Vietnam will also temporarily stop receiving Chinese workers who returned to China for the Lunar New Year holiday, said the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs. Those already back in Vietnam must be quarantined in their homes and workplaces and monitored for 14 days.

The Department of Employment, Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs and management boards of local industrial complexes will temporarily stop issuing work permits to foreign workers from areas affected by the outbreak.

Vietnam's government declared the novel coronavirus epidemic on Saturday. The country has reported 236 suspected cases with symptoms like high fever and coughing, including some who had visited infected areas in China as of Monday. Of these, 163 have tested negative for the virus and 73 are in quarantine pending test results.

Eight people in the country have been infected with the virus, including one who recovered and was discharged from hospital on Monday.

The death toll from the epidemic has reached 362 people in China and one in the Philippines. Over 17,400 have been infected while more than 500 have recovered.

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