A Vietnam Airlines flight attendant has been placed under house arrest after he triggered a new COVID-19 cluster in Ho Chi Minh City according to police who accuse the 29-year-old airline employee of “spreading dangerous infectious diseases in humans”.
Vietnam has done incredibly well in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic but when Duong Tan Hau became patient 1342, he went onto infect a friend who in turn passed the virus onto two other people. The outbreak broke an 89-day COVID-free streak in the country and it was the first cluster in Ho Chi Minh City in 120 days.
The outbreak occurred in November 2020 but the flight attendant has only just been arrested after recovering from Coronavirus related illness. Vietnam Airlines has apologised for the actions of the flight attendant, saying they think he violated mandatory quarantine rules that all crew members are required to complete when returning from abroad.
Vietnam Airlines has a dedicated crew quarantine facility in Hi Chi Minh City where flight attendants and pilots have to stay for four days when they come back from a foreign assignment. Crew members are also required to take two COVID-19 tests 72 hours apart on their return and if both are negative they can complete a two week isolation period in their own home.
Tan Hau stands accused of breaking quarantine rules by leaving his quarantine block to visit a friend and fellow flight attendant who had just returned from Romania and who was staying in another part of the quarantine complex. She is believed to have infected Tan Hau but the virus didn’t show up in either of the tests he took.
Once at home, police claim the flight attendant failed to self-isolate and ended up seeing his mother and two friends, including an English teacher who stayed with him for a couple of days.
On day 14 of his return from abroad, Tan Hau tested positive for COVID-19. A day later, the English teacher returned a positive test result.
The flight attendant denies he broke quarantine rules at the airline managed facility and instead claims he met several colleagues in a shared area while getting a drink. He says he had a stomach ache and several flight attendants, including the one who had returned from Romania, provided assistance.
“I understand that I have made mistakes. But I shouldn’t be the only one to be blamed for this. Errors in quarantine management have allowed me to neglect and let my guard down,” Tan Hau told a local newspaper.
“I hope that the investigators will clarify this and assess the nature and extent of my violation,” he continued.
His lawyer has also demanded a thorough investigation but said he hoped the case would serve as a warning to other flight attendants.
The case is reminiscent of a recent incident involving an Eva Air pilot who failed to observe quarantine rules and ended up breaking Taiwan’s 250-day COVID-free streak. The pilot has since been sacked by Eva Air and the airline has been fined $35,000 for the breach.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.