2,000 Russians on Vietnam’s ‘pearl’ island to fly home

By Hoang Phong   March 25, 2020 | 07:09 pm PT
2,000 Russians on Vietnam’s ‘pearl’ island to fly home
Phu Quoc Island, a popular tourist destination in southern Vietnam. Photo by Shutterstock/Jimmy Tran.
Russia will organize six flights to Vietnam’s largest island Phu Quoc to repatriate over 2,000 of its citizens as coronavirus fears abound.

"Around 4,160 international tourists currently remain on the island, including the Russians," the Tourism Department of Kien Giang Province, home to Phu Quoc, stated Wednesday.

Bui Quoc Thai, deputy director of the department, said the flights will be carried out from Wednesday to Saturday to bring the stranded Russian tourists home as all Vietnamese carriers suspended international routes starting Wednesday following Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s order in a move to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phu Quoc, a pupular tourist destination in southern Vietnam, temporarily suspended receiving tourists from last week and closed all bars and restaurants after a Latvian visitor tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

A notorious prison site during the French colonial era, Vietnam's 'pearl' island has gained worldwide popularity in recent years. It opened an international airport in 2012 and has been implementing a 30-day visa-free policy to foreigners since 2014. The island has also seen a rapid growth of resorts and tourist services.

Phu Quoc welcomed over five million arrivals last year, up 30 percent from 2018. Of these, 541,600 were foreign.

Relaxing chairs on Phu Quoc Island are left empty, March 2020. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy. 

Relaxing chairs on Phu Quoc Island are left empty amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, March 2020. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy. 

Earlier on Sunday, Vietnam suspended entry for all foreign nationals, including those of Vietnamese origin and family members with visa waivers.

Only Vietnamese nationals and foreigners carrying diplomatic and official passports such as business managers, experts and high-skilled workers will be allowed to enter the country at this time, with all entrants quarantined for 14 days.

So far, the nation has confirmed 148 infections, including 131 active cases. Many of the active cases are Vietnamese nationals returning from Europe and the U.S. The earlier 17 cases were discharged after treatment. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 19,700 people globally as it spread to 198 countries and territories.

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