The outbreak of coronavirus has now reached more than 185,400 confirmed cases across the globe, prompting much uncertainty over where is safe to travel as more countries are affected by the virus
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has announced strict travel advice for numerous countries, with travellers now advised against all but essential travel to the whole of Vietnam.
Is it safe to visit Vietnam?
As of 14 March, the FCO has advised against all but essential travel to Vietnam due to the high risk of quarantine for British nationals arriving in country.
The country now has 57 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and announced from noon (0500 UK) on 15 March that all foreign nationals will be refused entry to Vietnam if in the previous 14 days they have been to the UK, or any Schengen country, even in transit. This restriction is in place until 14 April 2020.
While it still may be technically possible for British citizens with essential business to enter Vietnam with a valid visa, and who have not been to the UK or any of the Schengen countries in the previous 14 days, there is a high risk that you will not be allowed entry. Or you may be faced with 14 days in quaratine while the broader travel restrictions are in place.
Vietnam airlines is also to reduce direct flights to and from Europe.
The FCO said: "The Vietnamese authorities continue to impose various travel restrictions and quarantine measures as part of their attempts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Vietnam.
These are the symptoms of coronavirus (Photo: WHO)
These are the symptoms of coronavirus (Photo: WHO) Copyright: Other 3rd Party
"The number of foreign nationals taken in to quarantine after arriving on flights with confirmed or possible cases of coronavirus has increased.
"There is a high risk for British nationals of being put into 14 days of quarantine, either on arrival or during your trip to Vietnam, regardless of your route.
"Vietnamese quarantine centres are safe but basic, and not guaranteed to meet Public Health England standards. There is also a risk of British Nationals being turned away from, or asked to leave, hotels in Vietnam.
"You are at risk of being put into quarantine or instructed to self-isolate for 14 days even after you have arrived in Vietnam, if you either develop flu-like symptoms, or it is suspected you have been in contact with some who has tested for coronavirus."
There are increased restrictions on British nationals wishing to visit Vietnam. From 12 March 2020, Vietnam has suspended its visa waiver programme for British nationals.
There are reports that e-visas have also been suspended and the Vietnamese embassy in London will not be processing visa applications until further notice. The Vietnamese embassy in London say that it is possible to get a visa, but there is uncertainty around the replacement process and timeline for such applications.
British nationals are strongly advised to familiarise themselves with these risks before travelling.
The Vietnamese authorities have also announced the following travel restrictions and quarantine requirements:
From 12 noon on 15 March, anynyone who has visited the UK, any one of the Schengen countries, China, Iran, Italy or Daegu city and Gyeongsangbuk province in South Korea in the previous 14 days will be refused entry to Vietnam. The only exceptions will be people with specific agreement travelling on official government business.
Flights from South Korea are being diverted to alternative airports, some a considerable distance away from the scheduled place of entry in to Vietnam.
There is a high risk of further restrictions implemented at short notice.
What is coronavirus?
The virus originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, but cases have now been confirmed in other parts of China and numerous countries around the globe, including Vietnam.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that they usually cause “mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives. These illnesses usually only last for a short amount of time.”
The NHS notes that the symptoms of coronavirus are:
a high temperature
shortness of breath
They add that, "these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu."
However, human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia, bronchitis or more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Advice for travellers
Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you’ve travelled to the UK from the following places, even if you do not have symptoms:
anywhere in Italy on or after 9 March
specific areas in northern Italy in the last 14 days
Iran in the last 14 days
Hubei province in China in the last 14 days
Daegu, Cheongdo or Gyeongsan in South Korea in the last 14 days
Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you’ve travelled to the UK from the following places in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, even if your symptoms are mild:
Italy (outside specific areas in northern Italy) before 9 March
mainland China outside of Hubei province
South Korea outside of Daegu, Cheongdo and Gyeongsan
Cambodia , Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Taiwan,Thailand, Vietnam
Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
In Scotland call your GP or NHS 24 on 111 out of hours. In Wales call 111 (if available in your area) or 0845 46 47.
See COVID-19: specified countries and areas for more information and maps of specific areas.
As well as the travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, the Vietnamese government has recommended that citizens wear masks in public, and has introduced special permits for anyone seeking to organise large public events.
If you’re returning to the UK from Vietnam, consult the latest advice from the Department of Health and Social Care on actions to take.
Further advice is available from Public Health England and on the TravelHealthPro website.
Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS