The government’s decision to have arrivals from Omicron-hit countries undergo centralized quarantine is not a good move, citing cost burden and cross-infection risks.
Hanoi will no longer send all visitors from Omicron-hit countries and territories to centralized quarantine for seven days regardless of their vaccination or recovery status.
The decision was only announced early this week when the city detected the first Omicron-infection from a flight arriving from the UK.
While the quarantine decision was popular among some medical professionals and parts of the public, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) especially complained as it affected their resumption plans of regular international flights.
CAAV said that the decision was not in alignment with guidelines given by the Ministry of Health and announcements from the CAAV to its global partners.
“If the decision is implemented, it would impact the government’s plan to resume international flights to Hanoi as previously announced,” CAAV said. “All nine countries and territories to which Vietnam was set to resume flights in its first phase of a reopening plan have detected Omicron infections.”
Deputy Minister of Transport Le Anh Tuan on December 30 sent a letter to the government saying that the decision from Hanoi would become a barrier for resuming international flights and so should be removed.
Hanoi changed their quarantine policy the same day.
Responding to Hanoi’s decision, National Lung Hospital Director Doctor Nguyen Viet Nhung said that Hanoi authorities had valid reasons to worry about the spread of the Omicron variant while local hospitals haven’t got any experience in dealing with the variant.
“However, the city should try to gradually open to international visitors,” the doctor said. “People arriving from Omicron-hit areas should be closely monitored, but should not need to be sent to centralized quarantine.”
Agreeing with Doctor Nhung, former head of the National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, Nguyen Anh Tri, said that the government should resume regular international flights while trying to prepare proper measures to deal with the spread of the virus.
“The Omicron variant will spread to our country at some point and we can’t close our country too long,” he said. “We should prepare to cope with it, firstly by having enough test kits for Omicron detection.”
Vietnam has earlier sent a plan for resuming regular international flights to nine countries from January and so far five of them including the US, Japan, Singapore, Cambodia and Taiwan (China) have agreed with the plan.
Ho Chi Minh City also mandated that travelers from Omicron-infected countries must undergo centralised quarantine for seven days, the Dan Tri Newspaper reported.