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PM orders suspending flights from countries, territories with new SARS-CoV-2 variants

 Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered suspending flights carrying Vietnamese citizens home from countries and territories which report new variants of SARS-CoV-2 and see complicated pandemic developments, firstly the UK and South Africa.

The Government leader made the instruction in his Directive 01/CT-TTg issued on January 5 on intensifying COVID-19 prevention and control to ensure a safe and happy lunar New Year (Tet) holiday – Vietnamese people’s biggest festival which falls in the first half of February this year.

The Foreign Ministry is tasked with the strict screening of Vietnamese citizens abroad who wish to return to the country, to ensure the repatriation of those most in need in the target groups.  

The Directive notes that the pandemic continues spreading rapidly in many countries, with more than 600,000 new cases and 6,000 fatalities recorded each day. In particular, several new and more contagious variants of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in 38 countries.

The risk of the coronavirus entering and spreading in Vietnam remains high due to both legal and illegal entries and the negligence in disease prevention and control among the community.

In implementing the January 5 message of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat on intensifying disease prevention and control, the Prime Minister requested the Defence Ministry to coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security and People’s Committees of border provinces to tighten border management to prevent illegal entry.

The Defence Ministry and local People’s Committees should maintain close monitoring of all people entering Vietnam and ensure the 14-day concentrated quarantine and strict medical surveillance after concentrated quarantine as regulated so as to stop the coronavirus from spreading at concentrated quarantine facilities and from these facilities to the community.

In case new infections are detected, the Ministries of Health, Public Security and Defence, and provincial and municipal People’s Committee must immediately trace those with possible contact with the patients, and apply necessary measures.

The Ministry of Public Security must intensify investigations and punish people entering Vietnam illegally or organizing illegal entry, accommodations and hotels serving these people, and those disobeying disease prevention and control regulations.

The Transport Ministry should direct the strict implementation of pandemic prevention regulations before, during and after flights so as to early detect and apply suitable measures for possible infections.

Chairpersons of provincial and municipal People’s Committees were requested to intensify supervision to detect illegal entry, and enforce the strict implementation of regulations on concentrated quarantine and medical surveillance after concentrated quarantine as well as on wearing face masks at public places.

Provinces and cities should move to tighten the implementation of disease prevention and control measures at organisations, residential areas and risky areas such as supermarkets, stations, airports, schools and hospitals.

The Government leader also required relevant ministries and agencies to step up communications on the risk of the pandemic, and encourage the public to stay vigilant, wear face masks at public places and avoid mass gatherings, and inform authorized offices of illegal entry and disease prevention and control violations.