Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Vietnam closes land borders with Cambodia, Laos, April 3 due to COVID-19. Restrictions on entry, nonessential activity through April 15.

This alert affects Vietnam

This alert began 03 Apr 2020 10:07 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry restrictions, travel and business disruptions, mandatory quarantines

Summary
Officials in Vietnam have closed land borders with Cambodia and Laos for passenger transit as of April 3, to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Ongoing border closures by Cambodian and Lao authorities will continue. Cargo transit is permitted at all borders, including the border with China, though the effectiveness of the ban on passenger transit between China and Vietnam remains uncertain.

Nationwide restrictions that require all persons to remain at home and ban public gatherings of more than two people through April 15 will remain. Authorities are allowing people to leave their homes only for essential reasons, such as buying food and medicine, and for working in essential industries. Officials also require all persons to maintain a distance of at least two meters from one another and wear face masks when in public.

The government had previously announced a severe reduction in domestic flight services. Authorities have closed schools and recreation facilities. While factories can continue operations, officials have required workers to wear face masks and disinfect the premises. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has also instructed large cities, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, to prepare for possible large-scale quarantine measures.

Travel Restrictions

Since March 22, officials have banned all foreign nationals from entering the country, with exemptions for essential and skilled workers. All individuals who can enter the country will need to undergo quarantine for 14 days at designated government-run facilities. Authorities have also suspended all inbound international flights. The state carrier Vietnam Airlines (VN) has also halted all international flights through at least April 30.

The government could expand restrictions in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in-country.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by Vietnam correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int