Covid-19 returned to Viet Nam caused many people who plan to travel or go back to their hometown has to change or cancel their plan
After going almost two months without a Covid-19 case, Vietnam is back to high alert following a major new outbreak.
Le Anh Tuyet, a student at the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, packed her stuff on January 28 after hearing about the new Covid-19 outbreak in the northern Hai Duong Province, her hometown.
Afraid she might not be allowed to visit home for Tet (Lunar New Year) if there was a lockdown, Tuyet tried to return home that night but did not succeed.
There was no bus to take her home since drivers, afraid of the new outbreak, refused to travel to Hai Duong. Passenger buses had been prohibited from entering the province as of midnight that day.
“I am afraid when there are more cases in the future, my district will be locked down, and I will be stranded in Hanoi,” Tuyet said, tears in her eyes.
She is one of many people whose lives have been thrown into disarray following the recent Covid-19 outbreak in Vietnam.
Two weeks before the year’s biggest festival, Tet, the Lunar New Year, in mid-February, 109 people were found to have the novel coronavirus after a streak of nearly two months without local transmission.
The new cases were found in Hai Duong, Quang Ninh, Hai Phong, Bac Ninh, and Hanoi.
Millions of people for whom life had gradually returned almost to normal, again face disruption and inconvenience.
One million students in Quang Ninh, Hai Duong and Hai Phong have been told to stay at home, causing many parents to struggle to find caregivers.
“My husband and I will take turns to stay at home with our four-year-old son,” Nguyen Thi Minh Phuong, a white-collar worker in Hai Phong City, said.
“We do not want to send him anywhere because who knows where that virus is.”
In Hanoi, many parents face similar issues. A kindergarten in Tay Ho District had to be closed after one of its students came into close contact with a suspected Covid-19 patient.
The social distancing and semi-lockdown in Hai Duong and Quang Ninh have hit people out of the blue.
Truong Cong Toai, who has been on a business trip to Ha Long Town in Quang Ninh since last weekend, cannot return home to Hanoi after the province suspended all public transport following the outbreaks on January 28.
“I should be at home this weekend because we plan to visit my parents-in-law before Tet.”
He has no idea when he can return home.
People living in the capital and other provinces are ready for social distancing and even lockdown if the number of new cases escalates.
Many have rushed to stock up on essential items, especially giving the fact Tet is approaching.
“I do not know what will happen in the next few days or hours,” Nguyen Phuong Dung said while shopping at a mall in Hanoi’s Long Bien District on the evening of January 28. “We must be prepared for the worst.”
Plans to gather, party and travel during the holidays have all gone out the window, with many people deciding there will be no gathering in large groups before Tet.
“I have canceled all gatherings and year-end parties next week,” Truong Hong Thuy, an HR executive at a paper company in Hanoi’s Long Bien District, said. “No one cares about partying now. They only care about safety.”
Tour companies said they have postponed or canceled hundreds of tours to Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh.
“We thought Tet would be a better time for the tourism industry, but that glimmer of hope is fading,” Le Khanh, a tour coordinator in Hanoi, said.
Hope is also fading for businesses like shops and restaurants, which are afraid the new outbreak would prevent people from venturing out.
Hoang Minh, who closed his hair salon on Quan Thanh Street during the national social distancing in April, said 11 clients called to cancel appointments on the afternoon of January 28.
“My staff all wear plastic gloves and routinely sanitize brushes, scissors and combs after every use, but patrons are still scared.”
His dream of doing good business before Tet like in other years is fading.
No more champagne
The outbreak has rattled many people and caused them to change their habits to be safe. Masks and hand sanitizers have again become de rigueur.
Buildings and employers require people to follow safety measures and check their temperature before allowing them entry.
Some companies in Hanoi have let their employees work from home right from January 28, worried any of them might have come into contact with people from the new Covid-19 hotspots.
“Those who have met people from Hai Duong or Quang Ninh must tell their manager and start working remotely immediately,” Thuy, the HR executive, said in a letter to employees.
She has notified each department, recommended that employees should avoid gathering or talking in elevators, and “reconsider going to shopping malls before Tet.”
Authorities have also ramped up measures to contain the outbreak.
Hai Duong’s Chi Linh Town, which has around 220,000 residents, has been placed under lockdown while other parts of HaiDuong have announced social distancing.
In Hai Phong, where a patient at the Children’s Hospital tested positive for the virus, local authorities have closed bars and dance clubs and put up checkpoints at city entry points.
Activities involving crowds of 30 or more people have been banned, and students are staying at home from Friday.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, head of the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, warned of many more likely cases in the provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh, which are contact tracing and testing thousands of people, given the source of infection has yet to be discovered.
Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the health ministry’s department of medical examination and treatment, said this is the most severe outbreak Vietnam has seen yet.
The country has had 1,651 cases, including 109 in the latest outbreak.
On January 28 Dam said the steering committee would strive to contain the outbreak within 10 days though it is considered much more serious than the one in Da Nang last summer that took 23 days to quell. Besides, there are now cases of the new highly transmissible variant of coronavirus.
With Tet coming in two weeks, people are yearning for normalcy so that the holiday could be spent safely.
“All I want is the coronavirus to vanish, and I can reunite with my family before Tet,” Tuyet said after returning to her studio in Hanoi’s Long Bien District.
Due to the concern about the spread of the pandemic, and just a few more days to come until Tet, people are very interested in masks. Especially the Kissy active fiber mask is getting alot of attention to buy because it is the leading mask product in the domestic market, has a lot of certificates of merit and receives the trust of people for more than 14 years.