Vietnamese nationals in Indonesia waiting to board a repatriation flight on November 30. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Rescue flights to bring home Vietnamese nationals in dire circumstances would still be allowed, while voluntary commercial flights are on hold after the recent spate of locally acquired COVID-19 cases in HCM City as a result of a quarantine breach after three months virus-free.
Spokesperson for the foreign ministry Lê Thị Thu Hằng made the remarks on Thursday as she fielded questions from reporters regarding changes to scheduled repatriation flights as concerns rise over the Vietnamese Government’s possible suspension of all repatriation flights in the near future.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has ordered a temporary halt to arranging new voluntary commercial repatriation flights wishing to fly home (in which the Vietnamese national overseas would pay for the flight and quarantine fees back in the country), but other rescue flights to return home Vietnamese in dire situations will still be organised.
The order came after a SARS-CoV-2 positive flight attendant from a repatriation flight violated the quarantine protocol and resulted in a number of cases in the community and led to the closure of several schools and venues in HCM City and hundreds of people put into various degrees of isolation.
“In the spirit of leaving no one behind, since the pandemic broke out, Vietnamese representative authorities overseas have been working closely with airlines – both inside and outside the country – to organise repatriation flights to safely bring back Vietnamese citizens, taking into consideration the domestic quarantine capacity,” Hằng said.
So far, 240 repatriation flights have been conducted to bring home more than 66,000 Vietnamese from over 50 countries and territories, she continued.
Also during the press conference, Hằng said the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Public Security are cooperating to investigate possible fraud involving repatriation flight tickets in South Korea on the black market.
The spokesperson said that any acts that distort the humanitarian meaning of the flights are worthy of consternation and will be punished in accordance with the law.
Asked reports a Vietnamese citizen was found dead likely due to violent acts on a Vietnamese-registered ship in a Russian port, Hằng said the ministry has just received the reports on the incident.
It was reported that an altercation has broken out on the Inlaco Express ship (belonging to International Shipping & Labour Cooperation JSC, Inlaco Saigon), which was then docked at the Vostochny port in Russia’s Far East region, that led to the death of a Vietnamese crewmember.
The local authorities are working with the five Vietnamese crewmembers involved in the incident to clarify the situation, the spokesperson said, adding that Vietnamese representatives in Russia are doing their best to verify the identity and arrange a funeral for the dead citizen, as well as provide consular measures for the other crewmembers if necessary. — VNS