Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc Tuesday ordered a temporary refusal of entry to all travelers originating from areas affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including parts of South Korea, the country with the most confirmed cases outside of China.
As of Tuesday afternoon EST, there were 977 confirmed cases of the deadly virus in South Korea, mostly in the southeastern city of Daegu.
On the prime minister’s orders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced to the South Korean government, and the governments of other affected countries, that it would be taking preventative measures including the denial of entry to those originating from or traveling through epicenters of local outbreaks.
In addition, those who must enter Vietnam for reasons other than tourism must voluntarily report their health condition and be quarantined for 14 days.
The Ministry of Transport will reroute flights from South Korea to Van Don International, Phu Cat International, and Can Tho Airports.
The Police Ministry will also send information regarding passengers originating or traveling through South Korea that have entered Vietnam since Feb. 11, in order to re-assess their health.
In addition, Vietnamese returning from China will only be allowed to enter the country via international border gates.
South Koreans to be sent back to Daegu
Also on Tuesday, authorities in the city of Danang were working on a plan to send 20 passengers from South Korea back to their homes.
The 20 South Koreans entered Danang via a direct flight from Daegu Monday. They are currently in isolation in a hotel, after refusing to quarantine at Danang’s Lung Disease Hospital.
The Vietnamese Health Ministry has mandated that all passengers coming from coronavirus affected areas be quarantined for 14 days. The 55 Vietnamese that were on the same flight from Daegu all agreed to be quarantined, but the South Koreans refused to follow the ministry’s regulations.
Danang authorities said Tuesday that if the 20 South Koreans want to remain in Danang, they must accept the quarantine or agree to be sent back home.
Also on Tuesday, a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi district admitted 20 South Koreans.
Representatives of the South Korean consulate in Ho Chi Minh visited them in the hospital.
Vietnamese workers in Asian countries
Vietnam’s Ministry of labor said Monday it was working on a plan to bring home about 20,000 Vietnamese overseas laborers in affected areas like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
Once they return, the relevant agencies are directed to plan for 14-day quarantines for all of the laborers.
State media said Monday that there were currently about 20,000 Vietnamese living, studying or working in South Korea, with 8,000 living in the Daegu epicenter alone.
Vietnam’s embassy in Seoul has launched a citizen protection hotline and is ready to take measures to protect its citizens in the country.
The embassy also confirmed that as of Monday there were no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 among the Vietnamese citizens in South Korea.
As of Tuesday afternoon Vietnam had no current confirmed cases of the virus. There were 16 confirmed cases previously, with 16 full recoveries reported.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong.