The Ministry of Health has published a draft protocol for COVID-19 quarantine and monitoring for entrants to Vietnam, which will receive comments from local authorities before being officially introduced in November.
According to the draft, entrants must pay for their pickup vehicles from airports, quarantine fees at hotels, and COVID-19 tests.
Entrants to Vietnam for diplomatic missions or public services lasting 14 days or more will be exempted from testing costs, except for those who demand quarantine at their own chosen hotel.
The introduction of this protocol is expected to pave the way for Vietnam to reopen regular international flights, as all commercial routes have been suspended since March.
Classification of entrants
Commercial flights entering Vietnam will be reconnected to countries and territories who have effectively kept the pandemic under control as determined by the prime minister, the deputy prime ministers and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
Passengers on these flights will be divided into three categories. The first one includes Vietnamese citizens and foreigners who are immediate relatives – parents, spouses or children – of a Vietnamese citizen.
Meanwhile, the second category involves foreigners who are experts, investors, business executives, high-skilled workers, as well as their immediate relatives, plus international students who reside in the country for 14 days or more.
The third category covers all entrants to Vietnam for diplomatic missions or public services of 14 days or more.
Hoang Minh Duc, deputy head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the health ministry, revealed that each category of entrants will be subject to separate quarantine and monitoring protocols, which include a different number of tests required.
Hope for international flight resumption
In September, it was alleged that international commercial flights to Vietnam would be resumed after a half-a-year halt. Speculation on reconnections of flights from Tokyo, Seoul, Guangzhou and Taiwan, as well as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand came as promising news for those who sought to return to Vietnam.
However, due to the insufficiency of entrant quarantine and monitoring protocols, Vietnam’s border was closed to international commercial flights again after opening for only two plane trips in late September.
Following the introduction of the official protocol, international commercial flights are expected to see resumption in November.
For the moment, a large number of protocols and procedures are in need of clarification to improve convenience for entrants and avoid community transmission risks caused by policy discrepancies.
Many other countries have relaunched inbound commercial flights, but they also had to introduce standardized protocols on sampling, monitoring, and quarantining for entrants.
Vietnam is also on track to develop these guidelines anticipated to help communities and industries recover from COVID-19 disruptions in a 'new normal' scenario.
The draft protocol requires entrants in the first category to enter 14-day quarantine, with one testing session the first day and another on the last day.
After the concentrated quarantine, entrants in this category are subjected to health monitoring for the next 14 days by local health officials.
Entrants in the second category will undergo the first seven days of quarantine at a hotel of their choice, with testing required the first day if their test was not performed on arrival at the airport.
If this test and the second test taken on the sixth day from arrival are negative, the entrants will be able to return to their places of residence, where they have to self-isolate for the last seven days of their quarantine. At the end of the 14-day session, they will take another COVID-19 test.
Entrants under the last category can choose to quarantine at hotel facilities, institutional headquarters or any place of residence prepared by their employers.
Those who visit Vietnam for diplomatic missions and public services are required to spend 14 days in quarantine, while experts visiting Vietnam for less than 14 days will practice isolation until their departure from the country.
Entrants classified under diplomatic missions and public services will be subjected to COVID-19 tests on the first and 14th day after arrival, while experts staying for less than 14 days will be tested every three days.