24 July , 2021
Vietnam’s Economic Hub Struggles To Curb New Covid-19 Outbreak
Doctors take samples for Covid-19 tests in Ho Chi Minh City
By Phong Lan
Deputy Head of the World News Desk Dantri Online Newspaper
HO CHI MINH CITY: Vietnam’s biggest economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City is experiencing the largest ever Covid-19 outbreak which seems hard to curb despite strict preventive measures by local authorities.
Medical staff shortage
Ho Chi Minh City authorities have just asked the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health to send thousands of doctors and nurses to help treat the rising number of Covid-19 patients at local hospitals.
In an official request sent to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Friday, Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong requested the urgent human resources support of 927 doctors, 4,137 nurses, and technicians. The city also requested 2,000 personnel to help with collecting test samples.
A doctor takes care of Covid-19 patients at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
Besides, the city vice chairman, Duong Anh Duc, also sent an urgent document to the Ministry of Health, requesting to mobilise 1,000 doctors and 4,000 nurses from all hospitals in the area to help with the Covid-19 treatment.
The call for help was made as the southern metropolis which is now the country’s largest epicentre is facing worsening development of the pandemic. Earlier nearly 2,000 medical staff from hospitals besides thousands of medical students across Vietnam had been sent to HCM City to help but that seems not enough as the number of patients has continued to soar.
At the meeting held on Thursday, Ho Chi Minh City’s Diseases Control said that the city has not yet reached its peak of the pandemic and the number of patients may continue to rise in the coming days. The city is preparing for a scenario when there are 80,000 patients.
On July 23, the city announced stricter virus preventive measures after the previous 15-day social distancing period that ended the same day was unable to curb the virus from spreading to more areas. Now even travelling inside the quarantine centres and lockdown areas will also be tightened. Fewer services will be allowed to open. Checkpoints leading into HCM City will only clear business vehicles, buses carrying people to their hometowns, and transportation trucks with approved QR codes.
People outside a lockdown residential area in Ho Chi Minh City
Migrant workers fleeing
The long and strict social distancing measures has made many people, mostly migrant workers coming from neighbouring localities, temporarily give up on their urban dreams. Thousands of of people have decided to leave the city for their hometown after losing their jobs due to the outbreak.
While some localities have tried to arrange planes and buses for their residents to return from Ho Chi Minh City, many people just could not wait but want to flee the city as soon as possible even by walking or riding their bikes on long distance when they had no money left to pay for daily food or rent.
On July 20, a woman and her three children were found cycling over 1,300 kilometres home from Ho Chi Minh City after losing their jobs and running out of money due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The woman, Nguyen Thi Huong, 50, said that she and her three children aged 30, 28 and 12 left home to work for a company in Ho Chi Minh City’s neighbouring province of Dong Nai Province and have been unemployed for four months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have run out of money and can’t pay our rent,” she said. “We decided to return home in the central province of Nghe An, which is some 1,300 kilometres away on our two bikes.”
The four had cycled for 10 days before being found exhausted at a Covid-19 checkpoint in Ninh Thuan Province.
Some staff at the checkpoint gave them food and drinks after hearing about their situation. Local police also support them with train tickets.
Huong’s stories are among many that have been much shared on local social websites about the painful impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the life of low-income people. Some other people were even found waiting for donated foods on the streets or walking long way home carrying their small children after losing their jobs and running out of money.
A woman and her three children ride 1,300 kilometres home after running out of money due to Covid-19 pandemic
Hopes coming from large-scale vaccination
While many passenger flights to the city’s Tan Son Nhat Airport have been suspended, more cargo flights transporting medical equipment and vaccines have been prioritised.
On July 22, HCM City began the fifth phase of its large-scale COVID-19 vaccination campaign which is scheduled to run two weeks with more than 930,000 vaccine doses to be conducted.
During this phase, priority will be given to people with underlying health conditions, those aged above 65, the poor, the vulnerable, medical and other frontline workers.
In the four previous phases, the city was supplied with two million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the Ministry of Health and expects to get three million more doses in late August and early September.
The Coronavirus resurged in Ho Chi Minh City on April 29 following the detection of a community infection. It has then spread quickly and by July 24 over 50,000 cases have been documented.
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