Vietnam reverses virus flight suspension

·2-min read
Inbound international flights in Vietnam had been suspended since Monday

Vietnam will resume international flights to its two biggest cities, officials said Wednesday, reversing a short-lived ban imposed over fears of a new coronavirus wave.

The country's Covid-19 cases have more than doubled in the past month, prompting bars, restaurants and schools to close and a rush to secure vaccines.

As the country struggled to contain a virus outbreak in more than half of its territories, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam on Monday announced a temporary suspension for international passenger arrivals at Hanoi's Noi Bai airport from June 1-7.

A similar order was in force for the airport in commercial capital Ho Chi Minh City until June 14.

But on Wednesday the aviation authority told airports and airlines that it had reversed the suspension, without mentioning a timeframe or giving an explanation.

Vietnam has managed to keep infection rates low but cases have rapidly increased in the past month and now stand at more than 7,800, with 49 deaths.

The communist state was lauded for its quick response to the pandemic last year, but vaccine rollout has been slow and it has now inoculated a little over a million of its 98 million citizens.

On Wednesday the health ministry said it had agreed a deal with Russia, which will supply Vietnam with 20 million doses of its Sputnik V vaccine.

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long hailed the agreement as a "positive result in the health ministry's continuous negotiation process to obtain vaccines", according to the health ministry's official mouthpiece.

The minister also said that the state-run Vabiotech would package and produce the Russian vaccines from July, with an expected monthly capacity of five million doses a month.

"This is a very important result so that the Russian side can transfer vaccine production technology to Vietnam in the near future," said Long.

The country was gradually moving towards its target of purchasing 150 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in 2021, he added -- enough to inoculate 75 percent of the population.

Vietnam has close to two million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine remaining, and it has agreed a deal to purchase more than 30 million doses of the Pfizer shot.

State media have reported that authorities are also appealing to private companies to procure jabs for their own workers.


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