The Vietnam Airlines attendant who breached Covid-19 regulations and made contacts with others while undergoing self-isolation at home would stand trial.
The People’s Procuracy of Ho Chi Minh City has just launched criminal proceedings against Duong Tan Hau, a Vietnam Airlines attendant, for spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, to others, pursuant to Article 240 of the Criminal Code.
The move of People’s Procuracy of Ho Chi Minh City came after it received the conclusion of the investigation and other documents linked to the case of “spreading contagious disease to others” involving in the 28-year-old flight attendant, who is Covid-19 Patient 1,342.
Hau breached regulations when making contacts with others while undergoing self-isolation at home. Such act triggered a community outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Duong Tan Hau (left) listens as a police officer reads a decision to place him under house arrest to be investigated for spreading Covid-19 in the community. Photo: Ho Chi Minh City police
On November 14, 2020, Hau and a Vietnam Airlines flight crew were tested for Covid-19 upon arrival in Vietnam from Japan and put under quarantine. With two negative test results, he was placed under isolation at a paid quarantine facility in Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Binh district until November 28, 2020.
However, Hau broke the rules by visiting others in the same quarantine area and ended up contracting the virus from another flight attendant returning from Romania.
In addition, while observing mandatory 14 day home isolation, Hau left home to meet a friend and take an English test at Hutech University. He tested positive on November 28, while his friend tested positive two days later.
As per Vietnam’s protocols on Covid-19 prevention, pilots and attendants are provided exclusive restrooms and vehicles once they get off the plane. They are not allowed to make contact with passengers during flights.
The indictment said Hau’s act caused material losses of over VND4.4billion (US$193,870), and altered lives of over 2,000 people in the city who were put in quarantine for directly and indirectly making contacts with him.
The outbreak broke Vietnam's 89-day and Ho Chi Minh City’s 120-day streak without community transmissions at the time.
Hau was placed under criminal investigation for his actions on January 11, 2021 and has been placed under house arrest.
He is the first person in Vietnam facing criminal process for flouting Covid-19 prevention protocols, but not the last.
Two others, a man in Mekong Delta’s Vinh Long province who illegally entered Vietnam and a woman in northern province of Hai Duong who did not declare her travel itinerary nor who she came in contact with, are also being probed on the same charge.
Management Board of Vietnam Airlines isolation zone is not held responsible
The indictment also stated that the management board of Vietnam Airlines did not comply with their duties and failed to strictly control and supervise people who had been put under quarantine.
However, Hau’s violation is an act of spontaneity and poor awareness. Members of the management board are not specialized forces for the pandemic prevention and controlso they are unable tosupervise and controlall individuals.
Therefore, there are not enough evidences to incriminate themembers of the management board.
The indictment said that Hau's behavior was serious, dangerous and threatened the safety of the community. He must be strictly punished in order to warn others.