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Vietnam to suspend visa-free travel for Italians over coronavirus concerns

12:18 | 03/03/2020

Vietnam will temporarily suspend visa-free travel for Italians from Tuesday amid fast-rising COVID-19 infections in the European country. 

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Foreign arrivals check in at Noi Bai Airport, Hanoi, February 10, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Kieu Duong.

The suspension was suggested by the National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Control of Covid-19 at a meeting on Monday, and has been approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang confirmed.

The move comes after the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Italy rose to 34.

Italy is one of 13 countries for which Vietnam has a unilateral visa exemption program that provides for a stay not exceeding 15 days.

Vietnam had said on Friday it would suspend visa-free travel for South Koreans starting on Saturday, Feb. 29, amidst an ongoing Covid-19 epidemic worldwide, with complicated developments in Italy and South Korea.

Both countries have been named among top hotspots of the coronavirus outbreak, second only to China, where the disease was first detected last December. As of March 3 morning, South Korea has reported 4.812 infections, an increase of 600 cases within one day, including 28 deaths, while Italy reported over 2,000 with 52 deaths.

Vietnam suspects 115 people to be infected with the virus as of Monday, the Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC) announced.

The country earlier recorded 16 confirmed cases. All have recovered and been discharged from hospitals by February 26, with no new cases in the country since Feb. 13.

On global scale, there were 90.888 people confirmed contracting the virus, including 3.116 fatalities. The new coronavirus has spread to 68 countries and territories./.

Reuters/VnExpress International/ SCMP