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Vietnamese citizens stranded in Philippines brought home on charter flight

Wednesday, March 25, 2020, 12:16 GMT+7
Vietnamese citizens stranded in Philippines brought home on charter flight
A Vietnamese citizen has her body temperature checked before boarding a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

Nearly 200 Vietnamese citizens who had been stranded in the Philippines due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic were brought home on Tuesday evening.

A charter flight of national carrier Vietnam Airlines carrying the Vietnamese citizens landed at Can Tho International Airport in the namesake Mekong Delta city at 11:30 pm on Tuesday.

After making health declaration, they were transported to a military facility in neighboring Hau Giang Province for compulsory 14-day quarantine.

They previously went to Cebu Province in the central Philippines as part of a ‘packaged’ English course, which covers tuition, room, and board for learners.

A flight attendant greets passengers on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

A flight attendant greets passengers on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

Due to the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of all schools in the country, including the English schools that the Vietnamese citizens were studying at, from March 17.

They also had trouble finding a flight back to Vietnam as all domestic flights to and from the capital city of Manila had been grounded since March 15.

Attempts to book flights from Cebu to Vietnam with transit time in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, or Thailand were also in vain as airlines announced they were canceling flights en masse due to travel bans imposed by those countries and territories.

Passengers have their passports inspected on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

Passengers have their passports inspected on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

With the help of the Vietnamese government and Vietnam Airlines, the charter flight was arranged to bring the citizens home on Tuesday.

The flight took off as soon as Vietnam Airlines was granted a license by Filipino authorities.

During the flight, crew members wore protective suits, face masks and gloves, and followed strict protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

Each passengers was disinfected as they deboarded the aircraft.

Flight attendant greet passengers on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

Flight attendants greet passengers on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, has infected over 421,000 and killed more than 18,800 globally as of Wednesday morning, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

Vietnam has confirmed 134 COVID-19 cases, with 17 having walked out of the hospital free of the virus.

The Philippines had confirmed 552 cases infected with the virus by Tuesday afternoon, according to the Filipino Department of Health.

Vietnamese citizens react after boarding a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

Vietnamese citizens react after boarding a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

A flight attendant helps her colleague with his protective suit on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam,  March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

A flight attendant helps her colleague tighten his protective suit on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

A flight attendant serves water on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

A flight attendant serves water on a charter flight from Cebu Province, the Philippines to Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

Passengers are disinfected after the deboarding a charter flight that lands in Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020.  Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

Passengers are disinfected after deboarding a charter flight that landed in Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

Vietnamese citizens fill out health declaration forms at Can Tho International Airport in Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

Vietnamese citizens fill out health declaration forms at Can Tho International Airport in Can Tho City, Vietnam, March 24, 2020. Photo: Khuong Xuan / Tuoi Tre

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