Omicron could affect plans for international flight resumption: transport ministry
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Vietnamese passengers undergo immigration procedures at the Van Don Airport, Quang Ninh Province, after landing on a flight from the U.S., Sept. 12, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Binh Minh
Vietnam plans to resume international flights in early 2022, but the transport ministry said the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 could throw a wrench in the works.
It had recommended the resumption of flights to 12 countries and territories under a three-phase roadmap starting in January, but the emergence of the new strain has made some destination countries cautious, Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said at a government meeting Thursday.
So his ministry is again holding discussions with relevant parties to finalize a detailed plan, he added.
Under the plan it had submitted, commercial flights are set to resume to countries and territories with good pandemic control records and high vaccination rates.
Fully vaccinated passengers and those who have recovered from the disease will be quarantined for seven days at paid facilities on arrival in Vietnam.
In the second phase starting in the second quarter of 2022, passengers with vaccine passports approved by Vietnam will be exempt from quarantine, and from the third quarter normal flight services will resume.
Some countries, including South Korea and Japan, to where Vietnam planned to restart flights have recorded cases of Omicron infection, which the World Health Organization has termed a "variant of concern."
According to scientists, it has 32 mutations in the spike protein, the most mutated variant so far and one which is predicted to spread faster and pose a higher risk of reinfection than other strains.
Many countries around the world have tightened entry restrictions or shut their borders.
Vietnam grounded international flights in March last year, allowing only its nationals, foreign experts, investors, and highly-skilled workers to enter.