Việt Nam's Coast Guard vessels on patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin in June 2021. — VNA/VNS Photo
Vietnam News Agency talks to Major General Trần Văn Nam, Deputy Commander of the High Command of the Việt Nam Coast Guard, on preventing illegal entries via sea routes to control COVID-19 risks.
How great is the risk of COVID-19 entering the country via sea routes?
The risk is significant, as the pandemic continued to rage not only here but also in many parts of the world. Many countries near Việt Nam are also seeing surges that are quite hard to control.
We are still maintaining strict quarantine for all foreign arrivals into Việt Nam to control the spread of the virus, but there are still many Vietnamese nationals overseas seeking to return home.
Over the land and sea borders, we have witnessed many cases, driven by profits, where people have colluded with both foreigners and Vietnamese at home to illegally bring back Vietnamese workers through the borders, or entered Việt Nam illegally via sea routes on the pretext of small trade purposes.
The Coast Guard has detected many such cases, especially in the southern sea adjacent to other ASEAN (Association of the Southeast Asian Nations) countries.
As the people and the entire Government is expending all efforts to contain ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, the Coast Guard sees good management of all entries into the country via sea routes as its key task.
What has the Coast Guard been doing in terms of COVID-19 prevention and control, and what will be the key tasks to stop illegal entries?
The Coast Guard’s leadership has been insistent on defending against COVID-19 threats. In tandem with fighting to prevent illegal entries and exits via sea routes to protect the country from foreign threats, we also need to be careful of the prevention and control efforts within our ranks.
We will maintain law enforcement forces at sea to keep watching over the on-the-ground situation and capture lawbreakers who take advantage of the pandemic situation to conduct criminal activities at sea.
Currently, the Coast Guard High Command has synchronously deployed forces to carry out patrol, inspection and surveillance activities in sensitive sea areas such as: Cô Tô, Bạch Long Vĩ, and Cồn Cỏ islands in the northern region and the Gulf of Tonkin; the central region’s sea areas; and especially the southwest sea between Việt Nam and Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, with a focus on the sea north of Phú Quốc City (Kiên Giang Province).
We will also need to promote coordination, exchange of information in patrols and action plans on sea with relevant forces like the border guards, police units, customs as well as local governments to fully grasp the reports and information on entries and exits of individuals and organisations to quickly prevent illegal acts. We also maintain frequent contact with authorities in other countries.
We see close coordination as one of the key measure to do our jobs well, creating a “combined strength” to get a good handle on the pandemic.
All offences will be strictly handled according to the provisions of the law.
We will also need to step up information campaigns for the public, especially fishermen, with regards to law awareness, so that they won’t aid and abet or participate in illegal entries into and exits out of Việt Nam, as well as report fully to the Vietnamese authorities and cooperate with law enforcements to fulfil the assigned tasks. — VNS