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May 31, 2020 / 19:33

Vietnam repatriates citizens from Singapore amid rising coronavirus infections

Vietnam brought its citizens home at a time when coronavirus infections in Singapore approach 35,000, much higher than the former's 328.

Vietnam repatriated on May 31 more than 340 Vietnamese nationals from Singapore, which has the largest number of coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia.

 Passengers get disinfectant when landing. Photo: Vietnam Airlines

The returnees are those of priority for the repatriation like children under 18, the elderly, people with pre-existing diseases, stranded tourists, among others, according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

All pasengers were quarantined upon arrival when they landed in the southern city of Can Tho on Sunday afternoon.

As required by the Ministry of Health and national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, all passengers and crewmembers wore personal protection equipment (PPE), face masks, and gloves.

Due to the severe pandemic situation in Singapore, all crewmembers were required to stay inside the airplane during the return flight.

 A migrant worker dorm in Singapore. Photo: Reuters

Singapore has become one of hotspots of coronavirus outbreaks in Asia with nearly 35,000 cases since it suffered the second wave of infections who are migrant workers living in tightly packed dorms.

About 10 to 20 migrant workers living in a dorm room where they share toilet and shower facilities, eat in common areas, and sleep just feet away from each other. It’s nearly impossible to conduct social distancing -- the consequences of which became clear in April when Singapore began recording upwards of 1,000 new cases a day, according to CNN.

After a phone call with Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on May 28 wrote on Facebook congratulating Vietnam on the fight against the pandemic that he called “decisive handling.”

“We agreed that amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, we must continue to strengthen our cooperation, and keep markets open and supply chains connected,” he said. “We will also explore reopening borders for essential travel safely and gradually, when the time is right.”