2,000 Russians on Vietnam’s ‘pearl’ island to fly home

Around 4,160 international tourists remain on the island, including the Russians, the Tourism Department of Kien Giang Province, home to Phu Quoc, stated Wednesday.

Bui Quoc Thai, deputy director of the department, said the flights will be carried out from Wednesday to Saturday to bring the stranded Russian tourists home as all Vietnamese carriers suspended international routes starting Wednesday following Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s order in a move to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phu Quoc, a pupular tourist destination in southern Vietnam, temporarily suspended receiving tourists from last week and closed all bars and restaurants after a Latvian visitor tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

A notorious prison site during the French colonial era, Vietnam’s ‘pearl’ island, has gained worldwide popularity in recent years. It opened an international airport in 2012 and has been implementing a 30-day visa-free policy to foreigners since 2014.

The number of tourists to Phu Quoc has increased substantially over the past few years, with a rapid growth of resorts and tourist services across the country’s largest island.

Relaxing chairs on Phu Quoc Island are left empty, March 2020. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy. 

Relaxing chairs on Phu Quoc Island are left empty amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, March 2020. Photo by Shutterstock/Andy. 

Phu Quoc welcomed over five million arrivals last year, up 30 percent from 2018. Of these, 541,600 were foreign.

Earlier on Sunday, Vietnam suspended entry for all foreign nationals, including those of Vietnamese origin and family members with visa waivers.

Only Vietnamese nationals and foreigners carrying diplomatic and official passports such as business managers, experts and high-skilled workers will be allowed to enter the country at this time, with all entrants quarantined for 14 days.

So far, the nation has confirmed 148 infections, including 131 active cases.

The earlier 17 cases were discharged after treatment. Of the current cases in hospitals, 15 have tested negative at least once.

Many of active cases are Vietnamese nationals retuning from Europe and the U.S.

The Covid-19 pandemic has killed more than 19,700 people globally as it spread to 198 countries and territories.

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