Vietnam Air passengers quarantined on virus exposure threat

A worker takes the temperature of a passenger on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Rome on Jan 31. (AP pic)

HO CHI MINH: Twelve crew members and 51 out of 73 passengers on a Vietnam Airlines flight from Nagoya in Japan to Ho Chi Minh were placed in quarantine on fears the carrier’s employees had been exposed earlier to a Japanese traveller with the novel coronavirus.

The Japanese passenger tested positive with the virus after landing at Chubu Centrair International Airport Wednesday with a fever, according to Vietnam’s government website, which cited its health ministry.

Fifty-one passengers on flight VN341, which landed in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday, were placed in quarantine while 22 others, all Japanese, were allowed to make connecting flights, the government said.

Two security staff and six employees at a Tan Son Nhat International Airport business lounge were also put in isolation after having close contact with the sick Japanese passenger, according to the government.

The Japanese passenger had boarded a Vietnam Airlines flight Tuesday from Cambodia’s Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City before making a connecting flight to Japan.

Vietnamese and Japanese authorities are working to verify the infected passenger’s Cambodia itinerary.

Vietnam’s Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen ordered Ho Chi Minh City authorities Wednesday evening to track down and isolate five people, including four foreigners, who were on the Siem Reap-Ho Chi Minh City flight with the Japanese passenger, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

The foreigners – three French, one Australian – travelled to Bangkok and Australia, respectively, on Wednesday, the newspaper said in a separate report.

The Vietnamese passenger was placed in quarantine Thursday morning with family members isolated at home, it said.

There were 67 passengers and six crew members on that flight, VnExpress news website reported.

The rest of the passengers were allowed to make connecting international flights out of Vietnam before it was learned that the Japanese passenger had tested positive for the virus, it said.