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Stronger measures taken to prevent COVID-19 spread via aviation operations

Passengers boarding flights of Vietnamese airlines will have to wear face masks compulsorily while those of foreign carriers coming or leaving the country are also strongly recommended to do the same to avoid coronavirus infection, an official said on March 11.

At the meeting of the national steering committee on COVID-19 prevent and control in Hanoi, participants agreed on the need to seriously apply compulsory health declaration to all people, both Vietnamese and foreigners, entering the country.

Those who lie in the declaration will be strictly handled in accordance with laws.

Deputy Minister of Transport Le Anh Tuan said to prevent the spread of the disease via aviation activities, from 6am of March 13, passengers on the flights of the Vietnamese airlines must wear face masks throughout their flights and within airports.

To flights of foreign carriers coming or departing the country, the Vietnamese aviation sector strongly recommends their passengers and crew members wear face masks on flights. This is also compulsory for them if they are at airports.

Before handling entry procedures, passengers will be provided with free face masks and requested to comply with instructions of the aviation sector, Tuan noted.

He added that to curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2, the sector will also work with relevant authorities to arrange specific areas for transit passengers at international airports.

The official also demanded drivers of public transport vehicles like taxis, buses and trains wear face masks, take other prevention measures, and ask their passengers to follow recommendations by the Health Ministry.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to boost the prevention and containment of COVID-19, the government has decided to suspend the unilateral visa exemption for citizens of Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the UK, Germany, France and Spain, starting at 00:00am of March 12.

Vietnam has notified those countries of the decision and will keep working closely with other nations and international organisations and partners to control the outbreak, the ministry said.

At the meeting, the committee also told ministries, sectors and localities to follow the Health Ministry’s instructions on the reduction of density at concentrated quarantine centres.

In particular, suspected cases who are at quarantine centres for three days and test negative could be self-quarantined at home under local authorities’ monitoring.

The Ministry of Health reported that from January 23 to March 5, Vietnam recorded 16 cases of COVID-19 infection, and all of them fully recovered. There were not any new cases from February 13 to March 5.

From March 6 to the noon of March 11, 19 new cases were confirmed, including eight Vietnamese and 11 foreigners. They include 13 passengers on Flight VN0054 from London to Hanoi, which landed at Noi Bai International Airport at 4:30am of March 2. All crew members of this flight have tested negative for the virus.

There are 24,782 people having close contact with confirmed cases or coming from epidemic-hit areas under monitoring at present, 2,525 of them quarantined at hospitals, 8,057 at other establishments, and 14,200 at home.