All Vietnam-Wuhan flights cancelled after pneumonia virus outbreak

By Nguyen Nam   January 24, 2020 | 06:45 pm GMT+7
All Vietnam-Wuhan flights cancelled after pneumonia virus outbreak
Police officers and security guards stand outside the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market where the coronavirus was detected in Wuhan on January 24, 2020. Photo by AFP/Hector Retamal.

Vietnam has cancelled all flights to and from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, epicentre of a new deadly pneumonia virus outbreak.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) Thursday sent a written directive to the Vietnam Aviation Department asking that all flight permits be cancelled and the granting of new permits to all flights connected to Wuhan by both Vietnamese and foreign airlines be suspended.

Affected airlines will have to contact the authorities of Wuhan Tianhe International Airport themselves to provide solutions for passengers who have purchased tickets on cancelled flights, CAAV said.

The aviation authority stated that it has also instructed relevant authorities and agencies to keep in touch with the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) to stay updated on the disease’s situation in the country, and to promptly carry out quarantine and disease control procedures for flights connecting Vietnam and other locations in China as and when needed.

Regional airports authorities and the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV), a state-owned company that runs 21 airports in Vietnam, have been asked to allocate personnel and coordinate with local health agencies to deploy body temperature screening equipment in order to detect and isolate persons with symptoms of nCoV, the new pneumonia virus that has killed 17 in China.

Previously, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) had issued a statement requesting travel companies to stop organizing tours to areas in China with high risk of nCoV infection.

Travel business must update themselves with information on nCoV infection and come up with preventive and isolation procedures to handle any cases that may arise.

Guides must vigilantly monitor the health of travellers already on tour, and must inform local health authorities and Vietnam’s diplomatic missions at relevant locations should they show any symptoms of the disease, which include fever, cough or difficulties in breathing, VNAT stated.

Business welcoming inbound internationals from high risk locations must also strictly follow guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, and report to local authorities if any passengers show signs of having contracted the virus, it added.

Many travel agencies have already been cancelling tours to various locations in China after VNAT issued its warning.

A Vietravel representative, who wished not to be named, said that the company will cancel all flights to Enshi city in China’s western Hubei Province to ensure the safety of passengers, while Saigontourist said it has already cancelled the trip of a group of passengers scheduled to transit at Wuhan Airport.

"The company will arrange to transfer customers who have purchased tours which stop at Wuhan to other tours. Ensuring the safety and health for customers is the top priority, and we have received the cooperation of customers with this decision," said a Saigontourist representative.

However, travel companies worry they will not be able to get their money back on services and tickets already booked with their Chinese partners.

"Most travel companies would have booked services in advance for their outbound tours, but some airlines do not accept ticket cancellations and will still charge 100 percent of the customers’ money. The customers react harshly to this," said Tu Quy Thanh, director of Lien Bang Travel, a local travel business.

Meanwhile, another travel agency said that a domestic partner is still charging 100 percent of fees for a service booked for a Chinese group from Wuhan City who have cancelled their Vietnam tour after an unspecified number of tourists tested positive for nCoV.

nCoV, short for 2019 novel coronavirus, was first detected in 41 hospitalized patients in Wuhan on December 31, 2019, after which it was reported in other cities and appeared in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

As of Thursday, China has reported 640 cases and 17 deaths, and has stopped citizens entering and exiting three cities, including Wuhan.

In Vietnam, two Chinese patients have tested positive for nCoV virus and are currently isolated for treatment at HCMC’s Cho Ray Hospital.

 
 
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