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Vietnam asks police to aid search for five arriving on plane with COVID-19 patient

Thursday, March 05, 2020, 10:25 GMT+7
Vietnam asks police to aid search for five arriving on plane with COVID-19 patient
A health worker sprays disinfectant inside a Vietnam Airlines airplane to protect against the recent coronavirus outbreak, at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, Vietnam February 21, 2020. Photo: Reuters

Five passengers, including four foreigners, who entered Ho Chi Minh City on the same flight as a Japanese national who has now tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) remained unaccounted for as of Thursday morning as the Ministry of Public Security has been asked to join efforts to track these passengers for quarantine.

The five passengers, namely one Vietnamese, three French citizens, and one Australian, were on Vietnam Airlines flight VN814 from Siem Reap, Cambodia that landed at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City at 10:03 pm on Tuesday.

On the same flight was a Japanese passenger who later tested positive for COVID-19 in Japan.

The city’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention made a plea on Wednesday for the passengers to “immediately” contact local health authorities to be quarantined as per regulations.

As they have not presented themselves to local authorities as of Thursday morning, Vietnam’s national steering committee for fighting COVID-19 has requested that the Ministry of Public Security run over the list of passengers who arrived on flight VN814 on Tuesday for the five passengers’ addresses in Vietnam.

In a dispatch sent to both the ministry and the administration of Ho Chi Minh City, the steering committee also asked that all people who have been in contact with the Japanese COVID-19 patient, including crew members and ground staff, be quarantined for monitoring.

The aircraft used to operate flights with the Japanese passenger on board as well as any public area the passenger made contact with while he was at Tan Son Nhat must be disinfected.

After landing in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday evening, the Japanese boarded a connecting flight, VN340, to Nagoya, Japan that departed at 1:19 am on Wednesday and tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Japan with a fever.

At least 70 people including crew members, passengers, and ground staff of Vietnam Airlines flight VN341 which returned to Ho Chi Minh City from Nagoya at 1:55 pm on Wednesday after having transported the sick Japanese passenger have been placed in quarantine in the southern metropolis.

Among the 67 passengers on the Siem Reap - Ho Chi Minh City flight, 61 boarded connecting flights to other destinations while six entered the city.

One of the six passengers, a Filippino, already left Vietnam for their home country on another flight on Wednesday.

Over 95,300 people have been infected and 3,285 killed globally by COVID-19, which first surfaced in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Health.

Over 1,000 infections have been confirmed in Japan, with 12 deaths, as of Thursday.

Vietnam has so far confirmed 16 cases of the viral infection, including 13 Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese.

All of them have fully recovered and have been discharged from the hospital.

The country has reported no new infections since February 13.

Vietnam requires a compulsory 14-day quarantine period for anyone entering the country with a recent travel history to areas affected by COVID-19.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health has raised its concern to the Ministry of Health that many Chinese passengers, who had left China for more than 14 days before entering Vietnam from areas that have not been affected by COVID-19, still run a high risk of being infected with and spreading the viral disease as their countries of arrival might have not strictly monitored them for disease prevention.

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