No change on mandatory rapid COVID-19 testing for air passengers from countries with Omicron

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Air passengers take rapid COVID-19 tests at Nội Bài International Airport. — Photo courtesy of Hà Nội Health Department

HÀ NỘI — The Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam (CAAV) has asked agencies to continue conducting rapid testing for all air passengers upon entry to Việt Nam, who are from or have transitted in countries with new cases of Omicron.

The move was made amid airlines and transport authorities raising concerns over possible overcrowding and COVID-19 spread at airports when passengers are required to take rapid COVID-19 test before boarding and after landing.

The CAAV suggested local airlines continue to include the cost of rapid testing in fares for passengers arriving at Việt Nam’s international airports.

Foreign airlines can choose one of two options, in which testing costs are included in the ticket prices or incurred by customers at the airport.

The cost of rapid testing for SARS-CoV-2 must not be higher than the price that the Ministry of Health announced in Circular 16/2021 dated November 8, 2021, on testing service prices.

Deputy Minister of Transport Lê Anh Tuấn said the ministry had received proposals from domestic and foreign airlines on removing the regulation on rapid testing for COVID-19 before and after boarding.

According to airlines, some foreign airports do not provide rapid testing services before the flight and the costs of rapid testing at some airports was costly.

A shortage of specific instructions on rapid COVID-19 testing such as regulations on time for testing before boarding, authorities to organise testing and approve testing results, or forms of payment have led to difficulties for airlines.

Moreover, the compulsory rapid testing for passengers after landing at airports during the peak time of regular international flights could lead to congestion at airports and increase the infection risk, Tuấn said.

The ministry asked the Government to allow passengers to use pre-flight RT-PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2 only, instead of rapid testing before boarding or after landing.

If the regulation on rapid testing is still maintained, the ministry has suggested that rapid testing be implemented only once, after landing. — VNS

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