Health ministry proposes suspending flights from countries with new COVID-19 variant

January 05, 2021 - 14:30

The Ministry of Health has proposed suspending or limiting flights from countries and territories that have reported the new variant of SARS-CoV-2.

A repatriated flight from Indonesia in November. Việt Nam is considering to suspending flights from countries and territories that reported the new variant of SARS-CoV-2. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health has proposed suspending or limiting flights from countries and territories that have reported the new variant of SARS-CoV-2.

The move aims to contain the infection of the newly-found and highly-contagious variant in Việt Nam after cases increased in 34 other countries as of January 3.

Việt Nam detected the first new coronavirus variant case on January 2, a 45-year-old Vietnamese woman repatriated from the UK on a flight landing at Cần Thơ International Airport on December 22.

The health ministry said there was no risk of infection from this case because the woman was quarantined upon arrival.

However, Associate Professor Trần Đắc Phu, a senior advisor of the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre, said Việt Nam should stay vigilant because there is a high risk of the new infection from international entries, especially people crossing the border illegally.

“The new strain can enter Việt Nam any time and poses a high risk of community transmission,” he told Vietnam Television.

People should closely abide by the health ministry’s protocols featuring the 5Ks (in Vietnamese) Khẩu trang (facemask)- Khử khuẩn (disinfection) - Khoảng cách (distance) - Không tụ tập (no gathering) – Khai báo y tế (health declaration), he said.

The World Health Organization has warned that the new variant is 70 per cent more transmissible than other previously-found variants.

At a monthly Government meeting last month, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc reaffirmed the Government’s protocol to suspend inbound international commercial flights and only gave permission to repatriating flights to the country to rescue those in difficult circumstances, sick people, the elderly or those with low income.

All passengers have to be put under 14-day quarantine.

Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tiến Dũng said international commercial flights which resumed in September would only carry passengers from Việt Nam to other countries and not bring passengers from overseas to Việt Nam. The Government will consider the full resumption of international commercial flights at a convenient time.

More than 40 countries have restricted immigration and banned flights from the UK and areas infected with the new variant.

Germany, the Netherlands and Bulgaria were among the first countries to close borders with the UK. The French Government requires passengers from overseas to be quarantined and own certificates testing negative for the virus.

Spain and Turkey have banned all entries from the UK until the end of this month.

The US and other European countries cut down the number of flights to and from the UK.

In Asia, Japan banned new entry of foreign nationals for the whole of January over the new virus strain. Indonesia banned entries of British nationals. —VNS