Flight Attendant Faces Prosecution Over Vietnam Covid Outbreak

The fallout from the latest community based transmission of Covid-19 is building after a Vietnamese Flight Attendant was the source of a new outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City.

The 28-year old flight attendant had completed a shortened quarantine in a state facility, testing negative twice. As part of special arrangements for flight crew, he was then allowed to self-isolate at home.

Latest reports suggest that the flight attendant broke the self-isolation requirements by having a number of visitors to his home and then leaving his home to visit a restaurant and attend a university class. He then tested positive for Covid-19 and the Vietnamese Track and Trace system kicked in.

General Department of Preventive Medicine guidelines state that people under home quarantine are not allowed to leave home and must eat, live and sleep in an area separate from other family members.

One of his visitors, a teacher, also tested positive which led to 2,244 people being caught up in the track and trace system as he had been teaching at two English teaching centres as well as visiting a shopping mall and gym. Two of his contacts have also tested positive. Of those tested 1,632 had come back as negative and results were still not back for 612 people.

The flight attendant could be facing serious consequences for his errors in judgement. It is believed that a criminal investigation has been launched by Ho Chi Minh City police. If convicted of “Spreading dangerous infectious diseases to humans” he could face up to 12 years imprisonment. Even if this does not happen his job will be at risk as Vietnam Airlines, his employer, are likely to begin disciplinary proceedings.

“HCM City is the first locality to consider prosecuting a case of this kind under Article 240, Penal Code 2015.” 

Colonel Nguyễn Sỹ Quang, Deputy Director of Ho Chi Minh City Police

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has demanded an investigation into individuals and organisations involved in this case and requested strict punishment for any violations.

The Vietnam Airlines quarantine facility has been forced to close due to the outbreak and could face action from the government who have previously warned airlines that failure to enforce quarantine rules would be punished.

Vietnam has so far recorded 1,361 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 35 deaths.

Flyingdog Travel Comment

This has demonstrated the efficiency of the Vietnamese Track and Trace system that has helped to keep numbers low in the country. The ability to not only identify but also contact and test more than 2,000 within a few days puts many countries to shame.

However it also puts into sharp focus how unlikely it is that Vietnam will reopen to tourism until the virus can be controlled and they can be confident further outbreaks will not occur.

Photo credit Arkady Lukashov on Unsplash

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