DA NANG, Vietnam – As the Kovid-1 of Delta has grown through Vietnam in the past two months, the country’s central provinces have so far endured severe lockdown.
As of Tuesday, there were 624,547 confirmed cases and 15,660 deaths recorded in the country, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Both foreigners and locals have been complaining that food and water supplies have been mismanaged due to restrictions on the supply of motorbikes, locally known as “shippers”. When the complete lockdown was announced three days ago, it crowded the local market.
On July 22, the government issued an official notification “Guideline 16” to follow the stay-at-home order for the sub-coastal city of Da Nang. Unnecessary business was closed, food shipping was stopped, and residents were prohibited from leaving Da Nang without official written permission.
Ward leaders were gathered in different neighborhoods, curfew was imposed and order forms were issued to provide food and water to the residents. Ward officials provide a variety of free groceries including some different vegetables and instant noodles.
The supermarket isles are empty, and concerns about a wuhan-style lockdown are starting to mount collectively. Expatriates and locals are expressing their frustration in online forums
Bride Edwards, a British citizen whose name has been changed for privacy, said, “If there was no precise plan for food supply chains, if the outbreak had gotten this bad, I would have been most upset.” Due to an existing shortness of breath, Edwards was afraid to go to crowded places such as supermarkets and relied on local contacts to help him get food.
In August, Da Nang color-coded its surroundings based on data on infection rates and provided an online map. Mass Covid-1 testing was conducted every three days in all wards where social distance was not possible and people were worried that it might be a superspreader event.
The availability of vaccines is a problem
Until recently, Vietnam received widespread praise for managing COVID-19, but gradually the vaccine rollout has become the ankle of its Achilles. There is a downside that the Vietnamese authorities rely heavily on the purchase of donated vaccines.
“Most locals want a vaccine in Vietnam – maybe not a Chinese-made synoform – but the rollout of any vaccine has been very slow, and you know, people just follow orders and rarely say anything critical about the top,” said Da Nang, a local whose name changed. Has been done to protect his privacy.
Tung believes the government is showing signs of pressure on the public to exchange information, and that the harsh lockdown could continue until next year, especially in Ho Chi Minh City. He says the authorities must finally stop the harsh lockdown and allow the country to move towards natural immunity as the economy resumes.
Some people are worried that the authorities may be stockpiling the vaccine and the money may go to the wrong hands. Vaccine scandals have already arisen, with some people getting extra charges for shots or getting fake vaccines. As of September, less than 4% of Vietnam’s adult population received two shots, and 16.5% received a single shot. Most vaccine rollouts are concentrated in Ho Chi Minh City, which has the highest case rates nationwide. Military personnel have been sent to the city to conduct lockdowns there.
Many foreign travelers to Da Nang have had problems renewing their visas. At the same time, they are also finding it difficult to leave the country due to severe lockdowns and lack of domestic and international flights.
As of Tuesday, a flight ticket, a Covid-1 test, and a written letter of permission from the embassy or city police to leave the central provinces of Vietnam are required. Those who are leaving will need to rent a private car to depart so they can go to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh. Ride-sharing costs about 7.5 million dong (330) per person, and the journey can take up to 24 hours, depending on traffic and time spent passing through provincial checkpoints.
In Facebook groups, people are expressing grief that visa agents are charging extra to extend their visas or to local immigration officials so that they pay extra fines at the airport. Expatriates have major problems between lack of communication or miscommunication between the government and foreigners living in Vietnam.
“They (immigration officials) are so corrupt, they will try to make money from you in any way,” a foreigner wrote on Facebook about his recent departure experience.
“There is no reliable information, no one knows what is going on and they are making it impossible for them to leave,” said Mark Worth, an Australian who is desperate to leave Vietnam with his wife. Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
The lack of reliable information has probably prompted the Vietnamese authorities to implement a new hotline for foreigners in Da Nang; However, the response is either slow or non-existent.
Most of Da Nang’s expatriate English teachers. Due to the closure of many local schools and the recent closure of most foreign education contracts with online Chinese schools around the world, many foreign teachers are suffering financially. And as Vietnam’s economy slows, the situation for the poorest locals has worsened.
“A lot of local people are starving and haven’t been working for a long time,” said Da Nang, a local woman who worked as a consultant, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy.
Hanhar has a brother who works for the government. His salary has been halved since last year, but he says among the lucky ones he still has a job.
“Some of my friends in the tourism industry haven’t worked for more than a year,” Han said.
Her sister, a nurse, has been forced to stay in hospital and work 24-hour shifts since the latest lockdown began and she is not being paid for the extra time.
“It must be very scary for the really poor people in my country right now. No one cares enough about poor people, ”Han said.