The fourth Covid-19 outbreak makes the country’s transportation activities almost paralyzed. Will the Vietnam vaccine passport be implemented and can it help?
Experts identified that the study and application of the vaccine passport is the key to recovering transportation activities. A COVID-19 “vaccine passport” is a certificate granted to those who have been fully vaccinated as prescribed by the manufacturer or national regulation.
First and foremost, widespread vaccination to create herd immunity is the most radical solution to bring the world out of the global pandemic. However, when people in many countries do not have access to mass vaccines yet, the application of a vaccine passport could is the best tool to help fully vaccinate individuals to travel more freely. This is also the first step for countries to resume domestic and international travel activities.
In order for the Vietnam vaccine passport policy to be effective, it is necessary to have a methodical and cautious pilot road map. Factors that need to be considered are: various vaccines with different efficacy and effectiveness are in use, transparency in sharing vaccination data between countries, the risk of “fake vaccine passport”…
While considering these above requirements, Vietnam has decided to conduct a trial experiment with the vaccine passport.
At 1:30 p.m on September 4, Van Don airport (Quang Ninh province) welcomed the first flight to try out the 7-day medical quarantine program for passengers with vaccine passports.
Flight VN5311 carrying 297 Vietnamese citizens from Japan landed safely at Van Don International Airport, Quang Ninh.
This is the first flight to experiment with the 7-day medical quarantine program of the Ministry of Health. All passengers on the flight need to have a Vietnam vaccine passport, which includes two conditions.
Firstly, they need to have the vaccination certificate (the last dose must be given within at least 14 days and at most 12 months by the time of entry). Secondly, the passengers have to provide a negative test result for COVID-19 (by RT-PCR or RT-LAMP method) within 72 hours before departure, and it must be certified by the competent authority of the host country.
After arriving at Van Don airport, the passengers were moved to Novotel Ha Long hotel (Quang Ninh) to undergo a 7-day concentrated medical quarantine. This procedure was shortened from 21 or 14 days to 7 days compared to the normal process, depending on the variant strain of Covid-19 where the passenger departed.
The entire process of picking up at the airport and taking passengers to the quarantine location is carried out in a professional and orderly manner, in strict compliance with the direction of the Government and the guidance of the Ministry of Health, ensuring absolute safety for all passengers and staff.
Director of Van Don International Airport, Pham Ngoc Sau said that the process of welcoming guests on arrival still complies with absolutely safe epidemic prevention standards, which has been practiced by the airport for a long time. Besides, in response to the risks of spreading from new COVID-19 variants, the airport has raised the cautious level to the highest.
Specifically, passengers landing at the airport will have their temperature checked, fill in a mandatory medical declaration, and go through immigration and customs procedures in a separate area. Passengers are also instructed to wear face masks and keep a safe distance all the time. Hand luggage and checked baggage are sterilized with specialized disinfectants.
Moreover, the station area and the passenger’s route are sprayed with disinfectants as well. Employees working at the airport when participating in welcoming Vietnam vaccine passport pilot flights must strictly comply with epidemic prevention rules such as: wearing specialized masks, wearing standard protective gear, ensuring a safe distance with customers, and performing continuous disinfection.
Mr. Pham Ngoc Sau stated: “Vietnam vaccine passport pilot flights bringing international passengers back to Vietnam with the application of a 7-day medical quarantine like this will create the premise for further expansion for those who need to travel. Those include Vietnamese people currently in infectious areas around the world who wish to come back to the country, businessmen, experts … We can even gradually restore domestic flight routes and trade routes. This is also in accordance with the step-by-step process of adapting to the “new normal” situation while fighting the pandemic and ensuring the continuation of trade and economic activities.”
Thus, with the experience and safety procedures in welcoming hundreds of “rescue flights” over the past 2 years, Van Don airport is the first place that has been trusted by the Government to welcome pilot flights. These flights with Vietnam vaccine passport requirements will apply a 7-day medical quarantine for eligible passengers.
Following the initial pilot flights, the Vietnamese government and Quang Ninh Province will assess and review the experience before the broad implementation of the Vietnam vaccine passport takes place. On September 12th, Van Don Airport is scheduled to host the next flight to bring back Vietnamese citizens from the United States.
This method has been applied in some countries to gradually lift the travel barriers. On July 1st, 2021, the EU vaccine passport had officially come into force. In Asia, Singapore and Thailand are the pioneer countries that have quickly developed a procedure and criteria for welcoming international visitors.
In July, Phuket (Thailand) had tried to lift off the quarantine requirement for international guests with vaccination certificates granted at least 14 days in advance and no more than one year before departure. These travelers must be guaranteed to come from countries that do not have SARS-CoV-2 virus variants following the updated list of the Thailand Ministry of Health.
The Government can certainly learn from these models and alter the Vietnam vaccine passport over time. This will also create the opportunity to recover transportation activities since it plays a huge part in Vietnam’s economy.
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