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Hubris and the return of Covid

By Staff writers   November 30, 2021 | 04:50 pm PT
With Covid-19 restrictions eased and people eager to reclaim “normalcy,” infections are resurging amid a general noncompliance with safety rules.

These days people can easily be spotted eating out, congregating in groups and conversing without masks.

Vu Tran Minh, 28, an office employee in HCMC’s District 1, admitted that people were indeed not following the five safety rules.

For instance, to avoid crowds and ensure various groups do not mingle, his office building has allocated different elevators for different floors, but most people use whatever elevator is available rather than wait for their designated one, he said.

Inside the office, people do not wear masks all the time.

"I only put on my mask when I go to fetch water or use the elevator," Minh said.

"Wearing a mask for several hours is not bearable."

Sometimes, on his way home, he sees motorbike drivers lowering their masks to smoke, he added.

Indeed, with Covid-19 resurging all over the country, doctors, officials and others are pointing out that many people are complacent and letting their guard down.

The Health Ministry confirmed 13,966 domestic Covid-19 patients in 62 cities and provinces Tuesday, the highest daily tally since the country ended months of lockdown on Oct. 1.

Medical staff take care of Covid patients at a field hospital in Tan Binh District, HCMC, Nov. 25, 2021. Photo courtesy of the hospital

Medical staff take care of Covid patients at a field hospital in Tan Binh District, HCMC, Nov. 25, 2021. Photo courtesy of the hospital

New cases have been found in almost all provinces, with over half being caused by public transmission rather than in quarantine areas.

Hanoi for instance recorded over 200 new cases daily during the past week, a far cry from just 20 when it started to reopen late last month.

Some southern cities and provinces such as HCMC, Can Tho, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, and Dong Thap have been hit even harder with over 500 new cases being found every day.

In HCMC, in the five days from November 22 to 26, over 7,000 new patients were hospitalized and the number of new cases is rising by the day.

But with many treatment centers set up in the past to tackle the pandemic dismantled or reverting to their original functions after the fourth wave subsided, the remaining facilities are now working at maximum capacity to cope with the new flood of patients.

Though health experts say such an increase in the caseload is inevitable as the economy and socialization return to normal levels, many also point to the public’s careless attitude toward pandemic safety as the reason for the spike.

According to authorities across the country, many people are too confident and casual and neglecting safety rules because they have been vaccinated though even full vaccination and strict safety compliance do not eliminate the risk of contagion completely.

Patrons at a restaurant in Go Vap District drink beer, even the eatery puts a sign saying no alcoholic beverages served, Nov. 3, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ha An

Patrons at a restaurant in Go Vap District drink beer, even the eatery puts a sign saying "no alcoholic beverages served", Nov. 3, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ha An

Kieu Vy, 32, of HCMC’s District 12 is one such person. She said since she recovered from Covid and thus has immunity, and others around her have all been vaccinated, she is not particularly cautious.

In fact, she said after several months of social distancing everybody badly misses the hustle and bustle of the city and human contact and are happy to return to "normal" life.

Since her recovery, she has been visiting her favorite bakeries as usual.

"They are very crowded and some are not cutting down their capacity by half as required."

Faced with such lackadaisical attitudes, local authorities are doing their best to enforce safety rules.

In HCMC, for instance, ward officials are planning to monitor restaurants to ensure they register for reopening, place their tables at a proper distance and install safety screens.

In An Giang Province, only takeout will be allowed at least until the end of this year and people who are monitoring their health at home have been instructed to keep their masks on even indoors.

Meanwhile, doctors advise everyone to get vaccinated quickly, wear masks, minimize outdoor activities, and avoid crowds, especially people over 50 who are obese or have underlying diseases.

In Vietnam, 72 percent of the population has been vaccinated once and 50 percent is fully vaccinated.

Gia Huy, 44, of District 3, whose relative tested positive despite being fully vaccinated has bought test kits for possible use at home.

He is afraid the pandemic would resurge and HCMC could lockdown again, but he does not have any choice but get back to work and get on with his normal life, he said.

 
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