Latest outbreak flips lives upside down in Ho Chi Minh city

July 07, 2021 | 16:45
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The livelihoods of millions of people in Ho Chi Minh City are in limbo as the city fights to contain its largest COVID-19 outbreak yet.
A bottle collector offered food
A bottle collector offered food

As the number of new infected cases over the past week rises partly due to extended testing, the municipal city continues to apply citywide social distancing in line with Directive No.10/CT-TTg on promotion of pandemic prevention activities.

Since early May, coronavirus infections swept across the city with numerous cases detected at industrial parks, office buildings, and wet markets among others.

Ho Chi Minh City is now racing against time to take sample tests for its residents with a view to detect infections and avoid potential outbreak risks in the community. Thus far the city has performed large-scale testing on five million people in all districts as well as Thu Duc city since June 26.

The city administered its largest-ever immunisation drive last week with over 800,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses provided.

Many businesses and their people have been more anxious as the pandemic is wreaking havoc not only on health but also on their budgets.

Shop owner Nguyen Van Nam temporarily closed his five food outlets during social distancing and began to sell food online despite seeing fewer orders. He fears that his business will go bankrupt if the closure continues in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Ho Ngoc Thu, an office worker, has been forced to stay at home for over a month. Her fears about coronavirus are growing as a number of F0 cases have been detected at both her office and in her neighbourhood.

“Some of my colleagues and neighbours have been in central quarantine zones. I now don’t dare to step out of my house when more people are taken to quarantine zones. The ambulance cab noise is just haunting me,” she said.

Nam and Thu are among millions of residents experiencing a tough month, and many now are taking action to help others in the city, especially the disadvantaged.

Some initiatives including free rice ATMs, “zero dong” supermarkets, and food freezers have been established in all districts to help the needy. Last week, a slide was set up to serve poor working people from six days a week. Donators send bread and rice servings through the slide to recipients to ensure social distancing protocols.

Latest outbreak flips lives upside down in Ho Chi Minh city
A young resident prepare servings for the needy
Latest outbreak flips lives upside down in Ho Chi Minh city
Free rice has been provided for those in need during the pandemic
Latest outbreak flips lives upside down in Ho Chi Minh city
An ice-cream seller received rice through the slide
Latest outbreak flips lives upside down in Ho Chi Minh city
A disabled lottery seller receiving rice
Latest outbreak flips lives upside down in Ho Chi Minh city
Ho Chi Minh City has started its mass vaccination campaign, photo Le Toan

Le Nguyen Hoang Thu - Teacher, Binh Tan district

I am among the people in charge of providing medical support to blockade checkpoints in the residential areas of An Lac ward, Binh Tan district, a current pandemic hot spot of Ho Chi Minh City.

We take turns staying at these checkpoints to respond to unexpected situations. However, if the lockdown is to be extended, we will need more tarpaulins or shade from the sun and rain, maybe even better meals, and more people for evening shifts.

Working at these checkpoints, I see how the pandemic affects people’s lives. They have to adapt to a new life in the quarantine zones, change their habits and way of life to find comfort while maintaining discipline.

The pandemic has taken away a great deal from the locals like jobs, freedom, money, and health. They worry a lot about their future but comply strictly with the rules set by the government to fight against the pandemic. Their quiet discipline has been inspiring me to follow strict hygienic practices to protect myself and my family.

Besides the inconveniences and difficulties, a life of civility and modernity is being gradually formed. People are keeping better personal hygiene, litter far less, and avoid public places like shopping malls, cafés, and bars. They spend more time at home with family, take care of their children, and use more technology-based services.

Vu Ly Minh Quan - Student, Saigon University

It has been a week since I became a volunteer for the vaccination campaign in Ho Chi Minh City. The work is really exhausting because there is a large number of people coming to receive vaccines. Even in the fierce heat, I am proud to wear the protective equipment and the job is really interesting.

Every day, I go to Hoa Mi 3 Preschool, a temporary site for testing and vaccinating in District 5. Vaccinations are administered from 7am to 5pm so I have to come early to prepare. For sample testing, I have to stay until 11pm. When people come, I instruct them to fill in forms and explain to them what to do.

I want to support the community in any way I can – and besides, lately there are not many other things to do. Since the latest outbreak, my work as a tutor nearly completely dried up. I have switched to online classes but my income has dropped roughly by 60-70 per cent. I am looking for another job hoping for additional wages but there are few positions open.

Nguyen Cong Duc - Tailor, Go Vap district

There are no orders any longer, so I became temporarily unemployed a month ago. However, instead of staying home all day, I chose to drive around to aid people in the quarantine areas. Everyone is having a hard time during the pandemic. I do what I can to help those less fortunate than me.

In the afternoon, I deliver fruit juice, tea, food, and supplies from sponsors to the quarantine areas. I hand over drinks to guards at blockade checkpoints and thank them. I have been a delivery volunteer since the members of the Renaissance Mission Church tested positive for the coronavirus. At the time, the entire Ward 3 was under lockdown.

I decided to join the volunteers after seeing my friends, who are full of positive energy to help people, go to give food and drinks to people in the ward. Gradually people are taking notice of what I do and friends and sponsors are contacting me to join.

People ask me why I choose to do this. Simply put, the community is like a body, when some cells are paralysed, the stronger ones step in to fill in for them. Looking back, I have to thank those who believed and directed me towards people who are in trouble.

By Van Toan

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