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Coronavirus

Vietnam to limit inbound flights ahead of Lunar New Year

An aircraft of the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines parks next to a Vietjet aircraft at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, Vietnam Dec. 23. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc now says only necessary flights are allowed to enter the country.   © Reuters

HANOI (Reuters) -- Vietnam will limit flights bringing citizens home from now until the end of the Lunar New Year in mid-February, when big gatherings indoors are expected, to reduce coronavirus risks, the country's prime minister said.

With a new COVID-19 variant spreading around the globe and the upcoming Lunar New Year, the country's most important holiday, only necessary flights approved by health, foreign, defence, public security and transport ministry are allowed to enter the country, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said.

After the Lunar New Year, which falls on February 10-16, the transport ministry will study the possibility of international flights resumption, Phuc added.

Vietnam has suspended all inbound international commercial flights since late March, but the government has been operating repatriation flights to bring home Vietnamese citizens stuck abroad amid the pandemic.

Some special flights carrying foreign experts and investors have been allowed to fly into Vietnam. All people entering the country have to spend 14 days in quarantine.

The country on Tuesday suspended inbound flights from countries with new COVID-19 variants, initially Britain and South Africa.

Thanks to strict quarantine and tracking measures, Vietnam fared much better than many nations, registering a total of 1,513 coronavirus infections and 35 deaths. It has gone 38 days with no locally transmitted cases.

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