A Vietnam Airlines flight Sunday repatriated 344 Vietnamese citizens from Singapore, currently the biggest Covid-19 hotspot in Southeast Asia.
Flight VN650 flight landed at the Mekong Delta’s Can Tho airport Sunday afternoon, with passengers including pregnant women, the elderly, youth under 18, people suffering illnesses and workers or tourists whose visas had expired, according to a Vietnam Foreign Ministry release.
This is the second repatriation flight from Singapore, after the first on April 24 that brought home over 200 Vietnamese citizens.
After making their health declarations, all passengers were taken to centralized quarantine facilities in Can Tho City and the neighboring provinces of Hau Giang and Vinh Long, where they will be tested for the novel coronavirus.
Singapore is now the Southeast Asian nation hit hardest by Covid-19, with over 34,000 infections and 23 deaths. The vast majority of the cases are work permit holders residing in foreign worker dormitories.
The island state had been praised in March as a shining example of how to handle the new virus. The World Health Organization pointed out that Singapore’s aggressive contact tracing had allowed it to quickly identify and isolate new cases.
However, less than one month later, Singapore suffered a second wave of infection, and the vast majority of new cases were detected in the overcrowded dormitories that house more than 300,000 of Singapore’s roughly one million immigrant workers.
On Saturday, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had hailed Vietnam’s success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic and thanked the nation for lending a helping hand.
In the last few months, several special flights have repatriated thousands of Vietnamese from several countries including Canada, France, Japan, Russia, the UAE and the U.S., and other Southeast Asian countries. Passengers have paid their own fares.
Vietnam has gone 45 days without community transmission of Covid-19. It has reported 328 infections without any deaths, of whom 279 have recovered, leaving just 49 cases active.
Experts have warned that the risk of community infection in Vietnam remains high as more foreign specialists, highly skilled workers and Vietnamese citizens stranded overseas due to the pandemic are allowed to enter Vietnam.
Reporting by Quy Nguyen
This story originally posted on VNExpress