Hanoi City to Quarantines Passengers from Omicron-hit Countries

Passengers arriving in Hanoi on flights from countries with the Omicron variant detected have to quarantine regardless of their vaccination or recovery status, the city government has mandated.
December 28, 2021 | 16:24
Passengers at Noi Bai International Airport
Passengers at Noi Bai International Airport. Photo: Nhandan

The decision issued Monday by the People's Committee also calls for tight control at Noi Bai Airport and monitoring people who have been to countries and regions with the variant but not arriving from there.

People arriving from other places should have tested negative for the coronavirus in the prior 72 hours.

Hanoi, currently the nation's coronavirus epicenter, has also instructed laboratories to conduct gene sequencing for detecting the variant while testing.

Random testing will be done of people who entered Vietnam in the last 28 days after being to countries with Omicron, those reinfected with Covid after recovery and those from pandemic hotspots.

Upon detection of an Omicron case, vigorous contact tracing would be done to cut off the chain of transmission, reported the Vnexpress.

The new rules are applicable regardless of whether or not such passengers have been vaccinated or have contracted COVID-19 previously.

Such measures are designed to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant as Hanoi has now seen daily cases surpassing 1,000 for more than a week.

The Hanoi government requested the Department of Health and the relevant agencies at Noi Bai International Airport to step up the monitoring of passengers entering Vietnam through the airport, particularly those from countries where the Omicron variant has been detected, said the Nhandan.

A passenger waits for customs check at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport. Photo by VnExpress
A passenger waits for customs check at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport. Photo by VnExpress

In addition, the capital city’s authorities asked laboratories to proactively conduct tests to detect the new variant in a timely manner, especially among those entering Vietnam within the past 28 days, those re-infected with the virus, and those in complicated clusters with high numbers of cases.

If the Omicron variant is detected, efforts should be made to track the original sources of infection and their close contacts to break up the transmission chains.

Omicron, first identified in late November, has raised fresh alarms due to its high number of mutations and higher transmissibility.

At least 78 countries and territories have detected the variant, including many in the Asia-Pacific like Australia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

It has yet to be found in Vietnam.

Vietnam confirms first Omicron infection

A person arriving in Hanoi from the U.K. has been confirmed as Vietnam's first Covid-19 case with the Omicron variant, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday.

A health worker collects coronavirus test samples from a passenger at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport. Photo by VnExpress
A health worker collects coronavirus test samples from a passenger at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport. Photo by VnExpress

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son said the person arrived nine days earlier and is now quarantined at the 108 Military Hospital.

"The health ministry has informed about the case to the government," Son said.

The infected person landed at Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport on December 19 and tested positive for the coronavirus. They were taken to the 108 Military Hospital soon after.

Genetic sequencing on December 20 and December 21 confirmed that the person is infected with the Omicron, or B.1.1.529 variant, said the ministry.

Omicron, first identified in late November, has raised fresh alarms due to its high number of mutations and higher transmissibility, reported the Vnexpress.

Around 80 countries and territories have detected the variant, including many in the Asia-Pacific like Australia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

Vietnam currently requires foreign arrivals to enter centralized quarantine for seven days, but a new guideline effective from January 1 allows fully vaccinated people and those who have recovered from Covid-19 to self-isolate for three days and others for seven days.

Hanoi recorded 1,948 cases of COVID-19 on December 27, mostly in the districts of Hoang Mai, Dong Da, Thanh Tri, Thanh Xuan, Bac Tu Liem, Cau Giay, Gia Lam, Ba Dinh and Thuong Tin.

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