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Vietnam Covid-19 surges, Ho Chi Minh enters lockdown Monday

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: VN Express

With soaring Covid-19 infections, Ho Chi Minh City has issued a stay-at-home order enacting a strict lockdown that bans people from leaving their home starting Monday. The megacity of 9 million people has accounted for a full 80% of all Covid-19 deaths and 50% of Covid-19 infections in Vietnam and less harsh lockdown restrictions aren’t making headway.

The deputy head of Ho Chi Minh City’s Coronavirus authority asked everyone to stay in their homes and not to go outside, in order to stop the spread of Covid-19 in its tracks and allow the city to treat the current critically ill infected patients.

“Each home, company, factory should be an anti-virus fort.”

The announcement sent many in Ho Chi Minh City into a frenzy, hoarding supplies before being trapped in their homes from Monday. The military will be distributing food to residents with the help of volunteers, unions, and veterans. The army will keep the food supply running and enforce stay-at-home orders through September 15.

But people racing to stock up in Ho Chi Minh will likely backfire and lead to more exposure and Covid-19 infections, and create shortages as people overstock in a panic. Long lines were seen in markets with shelves being emptied. From Monday, the most high risk districts of the city will not be allowed to go out, even for food, while safer areas will be allowed one weekly grocery shopping trip.

Vietnam like Thailand had long avoided the pandemic through strong countermeasures and citizen compliance in a country where mask wearing was already common. Before May of this year they had less than 3,000 total Covid-19 cases and only 35 deaths, but now just 3 and a half months later Vietnam has had 7,150 deaths and 312,000 infections, with 10,650 new infections and 390 deaths yesterday.

Less than 2% of people in Vietnam have been vaccinated, and now many feel that a sharp acceleration in vaccinations is the only way to get Covid-19 back under control in the country. Over 50% of Saigonese people have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine, but the rest of the country is far behind Ho Chi Minh. Vietnam has been developing their own domestic subunit vaccine that is now in the third phase of trials with promising results.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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