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On March 25, a flight by national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines from Taipei, Taiwan (China), landed at Da Nang International Airport. It was a repatriation flight bringing Vietnamese citizens home, which they had to pay for, and was a step towards the reopening of international commercial flights after they were suspended due to COVID-19, according to Vietnamnet.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, more repatriation flights will be conducted in the future. Priority in regular commercial flights bringing stranded citizens home will be given to six countries: China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Taiwan (China), Laos, and Cambodia.
These air routes received approval for the resumption of flights last September, but implementation was delayed due to complicated developments of the pandemic.
The gradual reopening is expected to assist the aviation sector but many problems remain, including the promulgation of “vaccine passports” and the location and cost of quarantine centres.
|Although “vaccine passports” are yet to become official, airlines are nonetheless preparing for the resumption of international flights based on their introduction. (Illustrative photo: VNA)|
Dang Anh Tuan, head of Vietnam Airlines’ Communications and Branding Department, believes “vaccine passports” may be rolled out swiftly in the country, as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) sent a letter to the Prime Minister on the issue, which the Government leader then passed on to relevant agencies to consider. The PM also instructed accelerating the process for “vaccine passports” at several recent meetings.
At present, more than 70 countries have joined IATA’s Travel Pass initiative. This contains personal information and data on COVID-19 at places of departure and destination, linked with government health portals.
The initiative may be piloted in specific areas, such as central Da Nang city, to assess its safety, Tuan said.
Along with legal regulations, technology, infrastructure, and personnel are other challenges facing the introduction of “vaccine passports”, according to analysts.
According to the deputy minister, the first thing is to devise suitable quarantine procedures for entrants who have received full doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Related options on the matter must be considered thoroughly, so as to balance the benefits and risks. The benefits here are economic development from the reopening, but there is still the risk of the pandemic spreading in the community,” he said.
For this reason, the implementation of vaccine passports is not simple, and must be done step by step.
Vietnam’s plan regarding vaccine passports is to utilise chip-based ID cards and health insurance cards. People who have received two jabs of a COVID-19 vaccine will have the information updated to a central database and the vaccinated can have a QR code. This code will be used to access their vaccination records when required by foreign authorities upon arrival.
Earlier during the regular Government meeting for March, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked the health, tourism and diplomacy sectors to study and issue a mechanism for vaccine passports to promote trade and investment. The health sector was told to submit a plan for this matter as soon as possible.
Also at the press conference, Minister, Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung said PM Phuc had instructed Government members to keep working for the twin goals of pandemic prevention and economic growth while using flexible micro policies to respond to unfavourable developments in the world situation.
By the end of Wednesday, 49,743 people, mostly frontline workers, had been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Vietnam.
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