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Asia Today: Vietnam to resume international flights

Vietnam will resume international commercial flights connecting the country to several Asian destinations starting Friday, after a monthslong shutdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

According to a report posted on the government website, flights connecting Vietnam’s two largest cities — Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City — to destinations in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan will operate on a weekly basis. Flights connecting the cities with Cambodia and Laos will resume next week.

The flights, however, are reserved for Vietnamese nationals, diplomats, experts, managers, skilled workers, investors and their families. They are not yet available for tourists.

Women wearing face masks as a precaution against the new coronavirus outbreak participate in a Hindu ritual at a temple in Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (AP PhotoFirdia Lisnawati)

To board a flight, passengers must hold a certificate showing they have tested negative for the coronavirus no more than five days before the departure date. Upon arrival, they will be tested and placed under quarantine, the report said.

Vietnam shut down international flights on April 1. National carrier Vietnam Airlines estimated last month that it would lose $650 million in 2020.

Vietnam has reported 1,059 cases of the coronavirus. It managed to avoid any deaths until July, when the virus crept into the city of Da Nang, killing 35 people.

A woman wearing a face mask as a precaution against the new coronavirus outbreak during a Hindu ritual prayer at a temple in Bali, Indonesia on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (AP PhotoFirdia Lisnawati)

But no new cases have been reported for two weeks. Last week, Da Nang lifted a travel restriction after two months.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea’s daily coronavirus tally has stayed below 200 for two weeks, but the government is urging people not to lower their guard. Authorities said Wednesday that the 113 cases added in the last 24 hours took the country’s total to 22,504, including 367 deaths. Eighty-one of them were in the Seoul metropolitan area, the heart of a recent viral resurgence in South Korea. Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-lip called on people to refrain from having unnecessary gatherings and visiting crowded places.

Women wearing face masks as a precaution against the new coronavirus outbreak pray during a Hindu ritual prayer at a temple in Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (AP PhotoFirdia Lisnawati)

A truck driver puts on a mask given to him by Public Order Agency officers at a check point set up to enforce a city regulation requiring people to wear face masks in public places as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak, in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (AP PhotoBinsar Bakkara)