Shocked, fearful: Vietnamese endure India lockdown

By Viet Anh    April 8, 2020 | 09:00 pm GMT+7
Shocked, fearful: Vietnamese endure India lockdown
A man walks on a closed road leading to the Presidential Palace in New Delhi on March 24, 2020. Photo by AFP/Jewel Samad.

With India imposing a nationwide lockdown to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, shocked Vietnamese in the country of 1.3 billion rushed to stock up essentials. 

On the evening of March 24, Nguyen Huynh Khanh Linh residing in New Delhi was surprised to hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, which took effect a day later. 

"I was shocked since India had just exited a 14-hour curfew on March 22," said Linh.

Attempting to purchase food online, she learnt suppliers could not access the necessary travel permits. 

Until March 31, after a week at home, Linh had to carefully explain to police her reasons for venturing outside.

By early April, many suppliers announced they only accepted orders if customers paid in advance.

Online order overload also occurred in the western state of Gujarat, where Nguyen Thanh Tam lives with her Indian husband. Her family, wearing face masks, visit the local market to buy fresh vegetables every two days, making sure to sanitize their hands after each outing.

Tam's in-laws are vegetarians and she jokes she "faces little pressure when it comes to eating."  

In northeastern Himachal Pradesh, home to Tran Tuong Thuy, local authorities only allow locals to go out from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. to buy necessities.  

With police prohibiting the use of personal transport, many walk to the supermarket.

Thuy does not stock up much as all stores remain open within the prescribed time frame.

Life upside down

Linh represents a Vietnamese company in India, specializing in exporting plastic raw materials. With the nationwide lockdown, her company’s goods remain stuck at Mumbai’s Nhava Sheva Port, India's largest.

Though the Indian government still allows transportation of all goods at port, most firms face a massive manpower shortage.

"Many self-employed workers returned home after the blockade. The port lost about 50 percent of its labor power," Linh said.

However, she supports the Indian government’s lockdown order since, as of Tuesday, the country had reported over 4,700 infections and 136 fatalities. 

Nguyen Trung Duc, a student at Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi, didn't leave the campus from March 15 before restricted travel orders were issued to avoid the risk of being infected with Covid-19.

He spends more time on research and experiments to complete his master's thesis. He also started practicing yoga under the Prime Minister's program "Yoga With Modi" on Youtube.

Nguyen Hien, who lives in Mumbai, said police have increased inspections to control the movement of residents while supermarket, food store, and drugstore owners employ chalk circles to make sure customers stand three meters apart.

Linh, who has lived in India for 15 years, said this is one of the most unforgettable experiences in her life. 

Now, whenever she returns home, she takes a bath, washes her clothes to kill bacteria, and uses salt water to keep away the coughs.

 
 
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