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Vietnam Airlines flight attendant to stand trial for spreading COVID-19

Saturday, March 27, 2021, 09:40 GMT+7
Vietnam Airlines flight attendant to stand trial for spreading COVID-19
Duong Tan Hau, a COVID-19 “super spreader”, is inspected by police of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Photo: A.X. / Tuoi Tre

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Procuracy has filed charges of spreading dangerous infectious diseases against Duong Tan Hau, whose failure to comply with COVID-19 guidelines led to an outbreak in southern Vietnam in late 2020.

As per the indictment, Hau served as a flight attendant for Vietnam Airlines when he contracted the COVID-19 pathogen and later spread it to the community in November 2020.

On November 14, Hau was assigned to work on flight No. VN5301, which set out to repatriate Vietnamese immigrants in Japan in light of the unexpected development of COVID-19 at the East Asia country.

He was sent to a quarantine center of Vietnam Airlines in Tan Binh District after arriving at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on November 15.

After spending three days at the facility and received two negative test results for COVID-19, Hau was allowed to return to his apartment on Bach Dang Street of Tan Binh District to continue his 14-day self-isolation period as prescribed by Vietnam’s COVID-19 prevention guideline.

On November 21, he broke the self-isolation commitment form, which he signed before leaving the quarantine center, by meeting up with his friends Lieu Minh Sang and Bui Thi My Hanh.

From this meeting until November 28, when Hau was found infected with COVID-19, Sang went on to meet scores of other people in his daily routine.

It was later revealed that Sang was also a COVID-19 case, and he transmitted the virus to two other people: D.G.H., a two-year-old who came in contact with Sang in his house in District 6, and N.T.T., a student in Sang’s English class at an education center in Ho Chi Minh City.

Contact tracing effort by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health revealed that 46 cases of direct contacts and 815 cases in indirect contacts were found involved in Hau’s situation, which generated VND4.4 billion ($190,000) in damage and sent over 2,000 Ho Chi Minh City residents to quarantine or self-isolation.

Liabilities of quarantine center

The charge document also debates the liability of the administration of the quarantine ward in Tan Binh District in the case, as their failure in monitoring led to the cross-infection from Duong Tan Hau to two other residents in the center on November 17.

However, it is also argued that these transmissions stemmed from the negligence of the infected individuals, who willfully broke the safe distancing rule to meet up on November 17.

On top of that, transmission prevention is not officially stated as the main duty of the administration board, as their workforce has to perform other tasks and is incapable of ensuring compliance of every resident in the center.

Hence, there are not sufficient evidences to form criminal charges against the board members.

Meanwhile, it is concurred that Hau’s decision merits stern punishment as he posed serious threats to public health and safety.

Vietnam has documented 2,579 COVID-19 cases so far, with 2,265 recoveries and 35 deaths.

The Ministry of Health on Friday morning confirmed two new patients who are both border jumpers from Cambodia.

They were registered in the northern city of Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City.

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