The Department of Transport of northern Dien Bien Province has fined a passenger bus operator after two of its passengers tested positive for COVID-19.
The two infected passengers are Lo Thi L., 16, and Lo Thi L., 18, both hailing from Ang To Commune in Muong Ang District, Dien Bien.
They took the bus numbered 27B-004.55, operated by Long Giang Dien Bien Co.,Ltd, traveling from the Bach Dang Bridge, the boundary between Hai Phong City and Quang Ninh Province -- with the latter province already reporting 46 COVID-19 cases, to Dien Bien between late on February 2 and the morning of February 3.
Before verification, it was previously reported that the bus is under the management of Thanh Cong bus company and had departed from Mong Cai City in Quang Ninh to Dien Bien.
In addition, there were only 57 passengers on the vehicle, instead of 90 as earlier reported.
Upon their arrival in Muong Ang, the two were placed under quarantine and sampled for COVID-19 testing.
Their results after two tests returned positive for the coronavirus.
As a preliminary action, the Department of Transport of Dien Bien fined Long Giang Dien Bien Co., Ltd VND8 million (US$348) and stripped the bus numbered 27B-004.55 of its ‘contracted vehicle’ badge for three months from February 5 for failing to notify the department of the passenger transport contract before carrying out the trip.
The fine already took into account the aggravation of “taking advantage of the pandemic situation to commit administrative violations.”
In addition, the provincial transport department will consider further punishment for the company as the driver of the bus 27B-004.55 turned off the vehicle’s monitoring device during the February 2-3 journey, which led to difficulties in tracing possible infections, and carried more than the prescribed number of passengers.
Apart from the aforementioned penalty, the Dien Bien transport department also punished Long Giang Dien Bien Co.,Ltd with another VND8-million amount and suspended contracted activity of its bus numbered 27B-004.51 for three months for the same reason of failing to notify the department of the passenger transport contract before carrying out the trip.
Besides, Quang Tien Dat, driver of the company’s bus numbered 89B-008.49, was fined VND1.5 million ($65) and had his driver’s license revoked for two months for carrying people who were not declared on the passenger list.
Dien Bien Province on Friday morning announced two positive cases and two ‘weak positive’ cases of COVID-19 from different groups of passengers returning from the now epicenters of Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong and Hanoi.
A retest by the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology later on the same day confirmed only three infections, including the two passengers on the bus 27B-004.55 and L.V.M., 16, hailing from Na Nhan Commune in Dien Bien City, out of the six cases.
The local authorities have tracked 414 people in direct contact with these six cases while continuing to carry out aggressive contact tracing throughout the province, according to the provincial deputy chairman Vu A Bang.
Vietnam reported the first two domestic infections on January 28, having spent nearly two months detecting no community transmission.
A total of 394 community cases have been confirmed since then, according to the health ministry’s data.
Two hundred and ninety patients were documented in Hai Duong Province, 46 in Quang Ninh Province, 23 in Hanoi, 18 in Gia Lai Province, three in Bac Ninh Province, three in Dien Bien Province, two in Hoa Binh Province, five in Binh Duong Province, and one each in Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong City, Bac Giang Province, and Ha Giang Province.
Most of the domestically-transmitted infections have been traced back to Hai Duong and Quang Ninh, both located in northern Vietnam.
Rapid contact tracing is underway while authorities have managed to put a large number of direct and indirect contacts in quarantine to stem the pathogen.
Targeted lockdowns have helped Vietnam take the upper hand in dealing with this new wave of transmissions.
The national tally mounted to 1,976 COVID-19 patients as of Saturday morning, with 1,465 recoveries and virus-related 35 fatalities, according to the Ministry of Health.