Update: 20:09 | 20/01/2021
All foreign experts and flight crew entering Vietnam will have to compulsorily undergo a 14-day centralized quarantine as Covid-19 prevention measures are strengthened ahead of Tet.
A government directive has stopped all short-term and home quarantine provisions. Earlier, allowances were made for some foreign experts and flight crew to be quarantined for less than 14 days or to be self-isolated at home or other accommodations, like hotels.
A South Korean expert carrying luggage arrives at a hotel in Hanoi for quarantine, November 2020.
The new rule was announced at a Wednesday meeting by Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long, according to the ministry's portal.
Only special diplomats identified as such by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be exempt from the centralized quarantine rule, Long said.
The latest move comes as the country of 96 million people tightens Covid-19 prevention measures ahead of Tet, the Lunar New Year, which is Vietnam's biggest and most important holiday. The holiday usually sees millions of Vietnamese from within and outside their country return to their homes to welcome the New Year with traditional rituals.
This year, the Year of the Buffalo, peaks on February 12.
The Vietnamese government has also limited inbound flights from now until the Lunar New Year holiday in light of new variants of the novel coronavirus spreading fast in many countries. Only flights with approval from the Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, National Defense, Public Security and Transport can enter the country, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said earlier this month.
On January 5, the Vietnamese government had suspended flights from countries and territories with the new variants, starting with the U.K. and South Africa.
Vietnam suspended all inbound international commercial flights late March, but the government has been operating repatriation flights to bring home Vietnamese citizens stuck abroad amid the pandemic, and has allowed special flights to carry foreign experts and investors to the country.
Minister Long said he was still worried about an increasing number of illegal entrants trying to enter the country through unmanned paths and trails to avoid being quarantined. Such people would heighten the risks of another Covid-19 outbreak, he said.
The Ministry of National Defense has ordered the military to bolster troop numbers along borders to prevent illegal entry, since a large number of Vietnamese working in neighboring countries like Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and China are seeking to return home for Tet in many ways.
Vietnam’s success in containing the pandemic has been rooted in its strict quarantining and tracking measures. Thus far, the nation has recorded 1,540 infections and 35 deaths, and has not reported any community transmission for the last 47 days.