Localities shore up defences for contingent of expatriates

March 02, 2020 | 08:30
As many countries struggle to avert economic damage and ensure safety during the coronavirus outbreak, Vietnam is implementing vigorous virus prevention measures and remains a safe and secure destination for expatriates.
localities shore up defences for contingent of expatriates
Popular areas for foreigners to live in Vietnam are attempting to get back to some sense of normalcy

In South Tu Liem and Cau Giay districts of Hanoi, where thousands of South Korean and Japanese people live and work, daily life has become more stable in recent days. Housewives still go shopping at the nearby markets without wearing medical face masks, with several of them saying that the epidemic prevention in Vietnam has been successful and they feel secure enough to get on with their daily lives.

A resident living at the Mandarin Garden building in Hoang Minh Giam street said that there have not been many changes in daily activities, while one South Korean expat told VIR that he commonly leaves home without a face mask because “Vietnam is quite safe, so I don’t worry too much about the outbreak.”

K-Market in Me Tri ward is abustle in the mornings. Dozens of employees are busy unloading goods from trucks before moving into the store, filling up the shelves to start another day of hopefully great sales. “Items in our store are selling like hotcakes, so we usually stock up plenty of goods at the beginning of every day.”

Bakery and cafe Tour Le Jours, located in the same area, does brisk business with a goodly number of customers at any time during the day. Amidst the outbreak, a staff members said that although there are fewer customers, revenue was maintained thanks to the rising number of online orders.

Similarly, a supermarket for Japanese expats draws in sizeable crowds of South Korean patrons due to great demand for food and daily necessities. “We haven’t seen any impact from the outbreak,” said an employee.

The latest information from the Ministry of Health notes that all 16 coronavirus-infected patients in Vietnam have recovered from the illness. Meanwhile, major economies like South Korea and Japan have seen a spike in infections, at over 2,000 and 245 cases, respectively. South Koreans comprise the largest expat community in Vietnam.

Despite the positive developments in preventing an outbreak in this country, the subdued atmosphere still lingers in some areas. Hanoian localities like Tran Duy Hung, Hoang Dao Thuy, and Hoang Ngan are still submerged in near-silence. Last week, shopping malls like The Garden received scant customers and even staff were few and far between.

The K-Food restaurant on the ground floor of Keangnam Landmark 72, where South Korean residents run the majority of businesses, was deserted even at lunchtime. In the afternoon, only five customers came by to take food away. Working at a company based at Keangnam, Young Hee Choi said that he and his colleagues usually take their meals from home or order something to stay away from crowded places.

A worker at K-Food told VIR that customer numbers dropped by 50 per cent since the Lunar New Year holiday when the COVID-19 outbreak in China began to impact Vietnam.

“However, as the epidemic outbreak exploded in South Korea, sales at the shop have dropped by 80 per cent against the usual figures,” he said.

Echoing this, a staff member of a Circle K convenience store explained that since the outbreak emerged, far fewer South Koreans have been coming in than before.

In face of the global spread of the COVID-19, local authorities in Vietnam – a living destination for about 100,000 South Korean people and more than 22,000 Japanese people – have carried out many measures to ensure the health of both locals and expats, from providing masks to disinfecting buildings.

In addition to masks, employees at workplaces like Shinhan Bank wear gloves to open doors in a further attempt to limit the spread of the disease.

Back at Keangnam Landmark 72, which boasts 12 floors for services areas, 28 floors for offices, 20 floors for apartments, and 12 floors of an Intercontinental Hotel, protocols for security and housekeeping staff have been enhanced strongly. “We have the right to refuse any entry or exit if they do not follow the rules on preventing the COVID-19 epidemic,” a staff member at the building told VIR.

After the rise in cases over in South Korea, Keangnam installed carpets containing a disinfectant solution for clients to wipe their shoes. They also require visitors to follow epidemic prevention measures, such as wearing a mask when entering the building and spreading disinfectant liquid for the whole building, in every office.

“Today, we remind clients if they don’t wear a mask. But tomorrow, we will start to refuse entry,” the staff member added.

According to Tran Duc Hoat, Chairman of South Tu Liem People’s Committee, nearly 11,000 foreigners are living in the area, mainly from South Korea, China, and Japan.

He said that nearly 200 South Koreans arrived in Vietnam within the last 14 days, including two from Daegu. One person has already been taken to hospital, and the other remains isolated at home.

Nguyen Duc Chung – Chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee

localities shore up defences for contingent of expatriates

The COVID-19 epidemic spread in South Korea through three main methods – by transmitting the virus in hospitals, in religious organisations, and by professionals returning from Wuhan in China.

Therefore in Vietnam, we should strengthen preemptive measures and keep everyone updated to quickly react to any signs of a COVID-19 infection and prevent a similar outbreak as has been seen in South Korea.

We are already actively working with students and other people who are well-versed in foreign languages to inform international visitors to our country about the latest updates on the epidemic as well as about preventive measures that can be taken to protect themselves and others.

Any person who shows typical symptoms of a COVID-19 infection will be checked and quarantined immediately. Necessary classifications are carried out at the immigration at all international airports in the country.

If passengers arrived from epidemic-stricken locations, they will be isolated immediately for at least 14 days to guarantee public safety.

Vietnamese citizens who went to South Korea before February 19, as well as South Koreans who came to Vietnam before this date, should be examined carefully and updated with information about the signs of a possible COVID-19 infection.

Finally, to prevent any risks, all religious and cultural festivals will not be held until the end of March.

Dr. Ki Dong Park - Representative to Vietnam, World Health Organization

localities shore up defences for contingent of expatriates

We were glad to receive information that all 16 COVID-19 cases in Vietnam have recovered. This outcome reflects the country’s great ability in clinical management and outbreak prevention.

Despite being encouraged by this success and the declining number of cases in China, we still worry as COVID-19 has been spreading very quickly and put large economies at risk. In an attempt to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, nations should propose measures aimed to reduce the epidemic’s ability to spread at a larger scale.

Creating social distance such as temporarily closing schools could slow down the epidemic but if children are staying at home for a long time it will be a burden on low-income households. Therefore, the government should soon offer solutions for the issue.

By Hara Anh

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