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Vietnam BANS all inbound intl flights to its capital as nation struggles to contain Covid-19 outbreak

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The Vietnamese civil aviation authority has suspended all inbound international flights to its capital of Hanoi for a week as the nation seeks to contain its Covid-19 outbreak, with new cases doubling over the past month.

The inbound flight suspension to Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport will affect all international flights “from June 1 at midnight until June 7,” the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) said in a statement on Monday. Outbound flights will continue as normal. The CAAV did not specify in its statement whether domestic flights would be affected by the measure.

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Vietnam’s southern business hub and largest city, Ho Chi Minh, had previously introduced a similar measure banning all foreign arrivals to its Tan Son Nhat International Airport. The suspension was expected to remain in place until June 4, but the CAAV said on Monday that it would be extended until June 14.

Even before the latest decision was announced, Vietnam had been limiting foreign arrivals to the country, with anyone arriving from abroad having to enter a mandatory 21-day quarantine.

Ho Chi Minh, a city with a nine-million-strong population, also introduced strict social distancing rules, including bans on large gatherings and dining in restaurants, as well as closing down casinos and beauty salons. The city authorities also urged all residents over 60 to stay home.

The measures were taken amid news of a new Covid-19 strain, combining characteristics from both the UK and the Indian variants, being found in Vietnam. The British and the Indian variants are considered to be two of the most transmissible ones, and there are also concerns about the Indian strain potentially being more resistant to vaccines.

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The spread of the Indian variant on British soil prompted Germany and France to introduce tougher quarantine rules for travelers from the UK earlier this month.

Vietnam has previously been lauded for its relatively successful response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as the nation has been containing the spread of the disease for most of the last year. In total, the nation of 98 million has registered over 7,200 cases and 47 deaths to date. Its vaccination campaign has been limited so far, though, with only around 28,000 people fully vaccinated against the virus at present.

The number of new cases nearly doubled over the past month, however, prompting the authorities to take stricter measures to contain the virus’ spread. The government also encouraged local authorities and companies on Monday to import Covid-19 vaccines on their own, adding that it can be done through a health ministry procedure or through one of 27 licensed importers.

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