Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc requested relevant agencies to look into the restoration of regular flight routes to and from other countries to fulfil the dual goal of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting economic development.
The direction was stated by the Government Office in an official document to ministries and local authorities on the implementation of repatriation flights in the first quarter of 2021, which was based on a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The prime minister assigned the Ministry of Transport to prepare research on the feasibility.
In light of threats from new COVID-19 variants, which are spreading in several countries, PM Phuc requested the maximum curtailment of entrance flights into the country from now to the Lunar New Year holiday, which is due around mid-February.
In case of absolute necessity, an inbound flight must be appraised by relevant ministries before the prime minister's final approval.
The Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Health are tasked with preparing quarantine options for Vietnamese entrants on inbound flights.
The quarantine duration and procedure must be thoroughly probed for compliance with prevention guidelines against the new COVID-19 virus variants.
The premier called on local authorities to boost checks of quarantine facilities, including those not administered by the military, to ensure adherence to COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
Entrants entitled to shortened quarantine duration as per current policy will also be subjected to the full 14-day span of isolation on centralized premises, except for cases specified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As per the current guideline, Vietnam allows business people and experts entering the country to leave centralized quarantine after five days, but they have to self-isolate at home or their workplace.
The admission, transfer, and monitoring of people who have completed quarantine in centralized zones should also be conducted with high vigilance, while violations of COVID-19 prevention guidelines should be severely punished.
The prime minister also demanded an impetus to the monitoring of migrants through land and sea borders, which must be accompanied by advocacy against border jumping among relatives of Vietnamese abroad who are looking to return to their home country.
The government would consider providing financial support for disadvantaged Vietnamese who return to the country via land routes and enter quarantine at centralized facilities.
Vietnam has confirmed 1,515 coronavirus patients as of Tuesday afternoon, with 1,361 recoveries and 35 virus-related deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
The country has reported no domestic case since December 2, with four infections detected since December 26 among a group of six Vietnamese who had made an illegal entry on December 24 to avoid mandatory quarantine.
Two domestically-made vaccines are undergoing clinical trials in Vietnam, their rollout expected late this year or early next year.