The Vietnam government has ordered the evacuation of 80,000 people, primarily domestic tourists from the central coast city of Da Nang, after three residents tested positive for the coronavirus at the weekend, the government said on Monday.
In addition, Da Nang authorities have ordered a semi-lockdown of the city over the weekend, which will include the closing of "non-essential" services like amusement parks, bars, beauty salons, karaoke and massage parlors and city authorities are asking both citizens of Da Nang and visitors who remain in the city to practice social distancing measures.
On Monday, Dinh Viet Thang, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said in a media statement that the CAAV has requested that all airlines in the country flights to and from Da Nang so that as many people as possible can be evacuated before 12am on Tuesday.
According to data from Vietnam’s local airlines, from July 27 to July 31, the number of passengers expected to arrive and stay in the city could reach 80,000. Currently there are 11 domestic routes from cities across the country to Da Nang, with approximately 100 flights per day.
Although the CAAV wants tourists gone from Da Nang by 12am Tuesday, a Da Nang airport executive said that the evacuation will take at least four days.
Vietnam Airlines announced plans to increase flights and operate wide-body aircraft including the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 to serve and support passengers who arrive and depart from the central city.
Other domestic airlines are also increasing their flights. On Sunday Vietjet Air said that it was adding 15 flights between Da Nang, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, while Bamboo Airways said that it has also increased flights to and from Da Nang on Sunday and Monday to meet the needs of passengers.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in January, Vietnam has imposed strict quarantine measures and carried out an aggressive and widespread testing program, that includes detailed contact tracing.
Because of the country’s defensive policies, Vietnam has kept its total tally of reported infections to just 431 people (as of Monday 6pm), with no deaths.
Vietnam is still closed to foreign tourism, but there had been a surge in domestic travellers looking to take advantage of discounted flights and holiday packages to local resorts.
The Vietnam Health Ministry has also said that people from Danang to other parts of the country would have to quarantine at home for 14 days and that people who returned home late last week would also need to self-quarantine and provide contact tracing information.
To ensure the safety and health of passengers, all airlines have been ordered to disinfect their entire fleet of aircraft, as well as implement measures to conduct health checks. Flight crews will wear masks and passengers will be required to wear a mask during their flights.