Update: 20:08 | 03/02/2021
Vietnamese airlines and airports have stepped up Covid-19 prevention measures in light of a recent string of outbreaks that have stricken 10 cities and provinces.
A representative of national carrier Vietnam Airlines on Wednesday said it has ramped up Covid-19 prevention measures on flights from northern Hai Phong and Hanoi. These flights would all be disinfected upon reaching either Da Nang International Airport in the eponymous central city or Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC, the representative said.
A Vietnam Airlines plane is sprayed with disinfectants.
Flights taking off from Cat Bi International Airport in Hai Phong would also implement social distancing measures, where passengers are seated further apart and no meal would be served during flights. Attendants on flights from Cat Bi would also wear full-body protective suits.
Hai Phong's Cat Bi Airport is around 50 kilometers from Hai Duong Province, the biggest Covid-19 hotspot at the moment with 226 confirmed cases. There are no flights directly to Hai Duong and travelers often go for Hai Phong as a transition point.
Other preventive measures by Vietnam Airlines include social distancing during check-in procedures and disinfection before boarding planes. Alcohol wipes are provided during flights, with even earphones disinfected after each flight. Body temperature checks and mask wearing are also required for both crew members and ground personnel.
Bamboo Airways also disinfects its planes from and to Hai Phong at the end of the day, and has stopped providing meals during flights.
Ever since the new coronavirus wave hit Vietnam late last month, several northern localities have recorded new infections daily. Hanoi has recorded 21 community cases and Hai Phong one. Quang Ninh Province, which borders Hai Duong, has recorded 38 cases, but its airport Van Don has been closed soon after some employees were confirmed infected.
In light of the new infections, several airports have had their employees tested for Covid-19 for good measure. HCMC's Tan Son Nhat Airport has been performing Covid-19 tests on all its staff since late last week until Feb. 7. Lam Dong Province's Lien Khuong Airport also took Covid-19 test samples from all its employees on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport is requesting for all its 3,200 employees to be tested too.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Health Ministry has confirmed 310 community transmissions in 10 cities and provinces, including Hoa Binh, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Gia Lai, Binh Duong and HCMC. The national coronavirus tally stands at 1,891.