A Vietnam Airlines passenger aircraft has returned from Equatorial Guinea to Hanoi with 140 Vietnamese workers infected with COVID-19.
The specially converted plane, which was equipped with ventilators and Vietnamese doctors, arrived in the national capital, Hanoi, on Wednesday, after a 27-hour, 21,000-kilometre-round trip.
Immediately, the infected patients were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
“We are all prepared. … 100 ventilators, medicine and other equipment for testing and treatment as well as some 500 rooms have been set aside for the passengers,” Reuters quoted the head of Hanoi’s National Hospital for Tropical Diseases as saying.
The West African nation of Equatorial Guinea has registered more than 3,000 COVID-19 cases and 51 deaths. The figures, given its population of 1.2 million, make it one of the African countries considered by the World Health Organization as “severely affected” by the pandemic.
Vietnam, free of the virus for months, was bracing for a wave of locally transmitted infections on Wednesday after new cases were discovered in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the Central Highlands, all linked to a recent outbreak in Danang.
Of the 220 people on the flight from the town of Bata in Equatorial Guinea, 140 were infected with coronavirus, Vietnamese state media said on Wednesday. At least a dozen were critically ill, officials at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases confirmed.
State media said the rescue effort was organised after the stranded workers, who had been working on a hydropower project, sent a letter to the Vietnam embassy in Angola, 1,200 km away, asking for help.