HÀ NỘI — The first two flights bringing about 400 tourists from Hà Nội stranded in Đà Nẵng since the outbreak in late July safely arrived in Hà Nội today.
These are the first of the seven flights specially arranged to bring back nearly 1,500 tourists from 17 localities in the country to Hà Nội and HCM City between August 12-14, after flights to and from the central city were grounded in late July as part of the city’s social distancing measures to battle a resurgence of COVID-19.
Thousands of Vietnamese flocked to the central coastal city, a popular resort town, in July for summer vacations, taking advantage of promotions in a push for domestic tourism after three months of no reported local transmissions of COVID-19.
The first flight bringing back stranded tourists in Đà Nẵng, including many children, arrived at Hà Nội's Nội Bài Airport on Wednesday. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Đạt
Their vacations were cut short, however, in late July, as news broke over the first local infection found in the city with a currently unknown source, which marked the explosion of new cases and the country’s first COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
All tourists coming to the airport must wear masks, face shields, gloves and many even wore full protective suits to avoid risks of the virus.
Security personnel and staff at Đà Nẵng airport have helped tourists with procedures and ensured physical distancing.
The airplanes used during the flights, operated by flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and budget carrier Vietjet, will all be disinfected after landing.
All tourists will be quarantined on arrival, to prevent transmission in the community, as many returnees from Đà Nẵng have been found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2.
Earlier this week, Hà Nội’s military has prepared two army barracks outside Hà Nội to receive 1,000 tourists about to be brought back.
Mê Linh field hospital had also prepared 200-250 beds, and could raise the capacity to even 1,000 on the orders of the city.
All tourists will be tested twice before being released from quarantine.
HCM City health department, on the other hand, asked that the 764 registered tourists, including 710 Vietnamese, be tested for coronavirus first before going on flights bringing them back to HCM City.
They will still be quarantined on landing, however.
Stranded tourists completing check-in procedures at Đà Nẵng Airport. — VNA/VNS Photo Trần Lê Lâm
Arriving at Đà Nẵng airport earlier than most other passengers, Phạm Thị Hảo told Vietnam News Agency her family planned a week-long vacation in Đà Nẵng from July 25 to 31, but this is right when the outbreak occurred so they weren’t able to travel anywhere and have been stranded since social distancing measures were imposed and flights to and from the city were grounded.
However, during their stay in Đà Nẵng, the municipal tourism department has given the family the best support they could, both in terms of arranging accommodation and registration for the flight back to Hà Nội, Hảo added.
Nguyễn Sơn Hà, another resident of Hà Nội, said his family started the trip on July 23 and were stuck here since, but commended the local authorities for their support with the procedures.
Director of Đà Nẵng tourism department Trương Thị Hồng Hạnh personally went to the airport to present souvenirs – including Đà Nẵng specialties like Mrs Liễu sesame cakes and mung bean cakes – for Hanoian tourists and presented them with a thank-you letter from Vice Chairman of Đà Nẵng People’s Committee Lê Trung Chinh.
For the tourists who had not registered for these seven flights, the tourism department will continue to provide support for them, and facilitate their registration for future flights. — VNS