Vietnam’s Ministry of Health announced seven imported COVID-19 cases on Thursday evening, all traveling on the same flight as another patient confirmed to have the virus one day earlier.
The seven new patients arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on board flight QH9092 on Tuesday after returning from Kuwait, with transit time in Qatar.
They were sent to a quarantine center in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, around 120km from Ho Chi Minh City, upon landing at Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Their coronavirus test returned positive on Wednesday. The seven are being isolated and treated at a hospital in Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
The health ministry had announced another case on the same flight on Wednesday.
The national count has hit 342 patients to date, with 325 having beaten the disease and zero deaths, the health ministry said.
Vietnam has documented no locally-transmitted cases for 63 days in a row.
Seventeen patients are undergoing treatment at medical facilities nationwide, four of whom have tested negative for the virus at least twice.
Vietnam is still quarantining 6,285 people.
Vietnam has barred entry to all foreigners, with exceptions made under special circumstances, since March 22.
The Southeast Asian country is halting commercial flights to and from foreign countries and territories but the government has arranged for charter planes to bring back citizens stranded abroad.
Arrivals are all required to be placed in quarantine upon entry, according to local regulations.
Fear of second wave
Vietnam is in control of the coronavirus epidemic, experts said at a meeting of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control in Hanoi on Thursday morning.
But the world is still grappling with the disease, particularly China, they pointed out.
Beijing has reported over 100 new cases linked to a wholesale market after almost two months of no local transmission.
Vietnam should keep close tabs on the virus because it can flare up again at any time, said Dr. Nguyen Thanh Long, Deputy Minister of Health.
“A second wave has hit many countries,” he warned.
“We’re deeply concerned at this stage.”
He advised against declaring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam, explaining some patients are still in treatment, imported cases have been detected, and the government has been repatriating citizens from abroad, while allowing certain experts to enter the country.
Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan had suggested at a sitting of the lawmaking National Assembly on Monday that Vietnam should consider announcing the end of the epidemic and take steps to gradually open the borders to certain countries that have kept the virus at bay.