A group of 20 South Korean tourists who refused to be quarantined as a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) precaution after arriving in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang on Monday were sent back to their country on late Tuesday night.
The 20 South Koreans, together with two Thai tourists and 58 Vietnamese, arrived in Da Nang on a flight from Daegu, South Korea.
Daegu, South Korea’ fourth-largest city, is a COVID-19 epicenter that accounts for the majority of 1,146 confirmed infections in the East Asian country.
Authorities in Da Nang requested that the South Korean tourists – along with all other passengers on the flight – be isolated for monitoring, pursuant to quarantine guidelines issued by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health for all people arriving from disease-hit areas, including Daegu.
Particularly, the Vietnamese passengers were taken to a quarantine site under military management in Da Nang’s Hoa Vang District, while the two Thai tourists stayed in quarantine at the Da Nang Lung Disease Hospital.
Meanwhile, the 20 South Korean visitors refused to follow the local authorities’ quarantine request.
As the South Koreans were uncooperative, Da Nang offered a charter flight to send all 20 South Koreans home, which they acceded to.
During their brief stay in the central Vietnamese city, the South Koreans were kept at the Da Nang Lung Disease Hospital, according to Da Nang’s Department of Health deputy director Nguyen Tien Hong.
At 10:00 pm on Tuesday, the 20 South Koreans were transported on a passenger bus to Da Nang International Airport and boarded an aircraft through a private gate.
|A bus carries 20 South Korean visitors to Da Nang International Airport, located in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang, to have them sent home as a precaution against the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, February 25, 2020. Photo: Tan Luc / Tuoi Tre|
Their flight, operated by Vietnamese carrier Vietjet, departed for Incheon International Airport near Seoul at 11:55: pm on the same night.
Da Nang chairman Huynh Duc Tho also penned a letter to the foreign guests on the same day, expressing his regret and apology that the city was unable to welcome them in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Both Vietnamese and foreign airlines have suspended flights to and from South Korea until March, starting from Tuesday, as a precaution against the spread of the COVID-19.
Vietnam has also required all travelers from South Korea to submit health declaration forms at immigration upon arrival, starting from Sunday afternoon.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered government agencies to quarantine all people arriving from areas hit by COVID-19 in South Korea.
The COVID-19 has killed 2,711 people and infected over 80,500 globally since it first hit the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, according to the South China Morning Post.
The number of confirmed cases in South Korea has reached 1,146, with 11 deaths.
Vietnam has so far reported 16 cases of the viral infection, including 13 Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese.
All of them have fully recovered and been discharged from the hospital as of Wednesday morning.
The country has recorded no new infection since February 13.