Too strict medical declaration creating congestion in Tan Son Nhat Intl. Airport

Covid-19 prevention tasks in Vietnam have been eased to the maximum possible extent to provide more favorable conditions for traveling, production, study, and tourism purposes. However, medical declaration procedures recently in Tan Son Nhat International Airport have caused severe congestion, tiring tourists and citizens out.

Serious congestion in Tan Son Nhat International Airport. (Photo: SGGP)

In the afternoon of April 25, Le Thuy Lan, living in Go Vap District, recalled her exhausted travel from Singapore to Vietnam two days before. She had to wait for nearly an hour just to declare her medical status.

Nguyen Thuy Ngoc from Phu Nhuan District, who has just come back from Australia, also expressed her annoyance, saying there were many old people on the plane and could not easily follow medical declaration steps (installing PC-Covid or using websites) without the help of others, which consumed a great amount of time.

A tour guide from District 1 shared the same concern. He said that most tourists in his group of 30 people were old. Besides standing in a long line for medical declaration, some might make minor mistakes on the form, and thus having to fill in the form again, which is rather frustrating.

Many travel agencies commented that immigration regulations of Vietnam are too strict and unnecessary for foreign tourists as well as overseas Vietnamese coming back to their fatherland.

The lack of synchronous information among domestic Covid-19 apps is another serious problem. Some people have been vaccinated four times, yet PC-Covid app only displays the first two. Other functions like unsafety warning, crowded locations, highly risky locations are not precise. This means it is useless to declare medical status at immigration.

To address congestion in the international station, popular airlines like Vietnam Airlines, Jestar Pacific, Vietjet Air have already assigned employees to instruct customers on medical declaration procedures at the luggage screening area. Tan Son Nhat International Airport has also increased human resources at this area to ease the congestion, but all declaration steps must be strictly observed.

The HCMC Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Economic Recovery has just issued the evaluation criteria set for pandemic prevention and control for various industries and fields during the period to flexibly and safely adapt to the new normal status.

Director of the HCMC Health Department Tang Chi Thuong informed that tourist accommodation establishments are frequently reminded and checked about pandemic prevention methods. Whenever there is a Covid-19 patient detected, that person must be isolated immediately in a proper room with its own toilet and sufficient medical equipment. Trained doctors or medical staff on Covid-19 must be there to monitor the patient.

Healthcare experts commented that tourism activities can be done under supervision. It is no longer necessary to impose social distance time. Nevertheless, critical rules of 5K like face mask wearing and regular location disinfection can be flexibly adopted, but not eliminated yet. IT should be used to provide essential information for tourists. The most important point is a synchronous direction from functional agencies for people to apply.

Serious congestion in Tan Son Nhat International Airport. (Photo: SGGP)

HCMC People’s Committee has submitted a proposal to the Health Ministry, asking for a temporary stop of medical declaration for people entering Vietnam to avoid congestion at the airport. Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Truong Son yesterday said that the General Department of Preventive Medicine is going to response to this matter soon.

Former Director of this department Nguyen Huy Nga said that other countries are still asking travelers entering their land to declare medical status since this action relates to the prevention task of other diseases as well. This can be done in the entry declaration form.

In the upcoming time, the Health Ministry is going to adjust regulations on this task to simplify the process.

Director of the Department of Information Technology (under the Health Ministry) Do Truong Duy informed that this ministry has started the task of confirming results of Covid-19 vaccination for citizens sent by grassroots medical clinics. This is considered an ‘electronic vaccine passport’ of Vietnam, following standards issued by WHO and Europe and used in 62 nations.

Travelers to other countries only need to display their QR code and related documents like a negative Covid-19 test result or tourism insurance when going abroad. At present 19 countries accept this Vietnamese passport: Japan, the US, the UK, Australia, India, Belarus, Cambodia, the Philippines, Palestine, Maldives, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Turkey, Singapore, Saint Lucia, the Republic of Korea, Iran, and Malaysia.

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