Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Vietnam bans all inbound international flights to battle fierce Covid-19 outbreak

Because of low vaccination rates, the government is encouraging local authorities and companies to import Covid-19 vaccines on their own, saying it can be done through the health ministry or through licensed importers.

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The Vietnamese civil aviation authority has suspended all inbound international flights to its capital of Hanoi for a week as the nation seeks to contain its Covid-19 outbreak, with new cases doubling over the past month.

The inbound flight suspension to Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport will affect all international flights from June 1 until 7, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) said in a statement on Monday.

Outbound flights will continue as normal. The CAAV did not specify in its statement whether domestic flights would be affected by the measure.

Vietnam’s southern business hub and largest city, Ho Chi Minh, had previously introduced a similar measure banning all foreign arrivals to its Tan Son Nhat International Airport. The suspension was expected to remain in place until June 4, but the CAAV said on Monday that it would be extended until June 14.

Even before the latest decision was announced, Vietnam had been limiting foreign arrivals to the country, with anyone arriving from abroad having to enter a mandatory 21-day quarantine.

The country has launched a criminal probe after a Covid-19 cluster was linked to a Christian church in Ho Chi Minh City.

HCM city’s top official, Nguyen Thanh Phong, said that extra restrictions were imposed to contain the cluster of infections connected to the Christian group called the Revival Ekklesia Mission.

According to the VnExpress news website, 126 Covid-19 patients have been linked to the church since Wednesday.

Police launched an investigation into the church on Sunday. The congregation is suspected of violating laws that ban “spreading dangerous infectious disease in humans”, news website Vietnamplus reported.

Vietnamese media cited the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control as saying that worshippers had gathered in a small, poorly ventilated space and did not wear masks.

State newspaper Vietnam News said Ho Chi Minh city now plans to test all 9 million residents, with a testing capacity of 100,000 samples a day.

In total, the nation of 98 million has registered over 7,200 cases and 47 deaths to date. Its vaccination campaign has been limited so far, though, with only around 28,000 people fully vaccinated against the virus.

The government is now encouraging local authorities and companies from Monday to import Covid-19 vaccines on their own, adding that it can be done through a health ministry procedure or through one of 27 licensed importers.

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