Vietnamese brace for second Covid-19 wave

By Long Nguyen   July 28, 2020 | 07:19 pm PT
Vietnamese face renewed distress after 30 people contracted Covid-19 locally, the first such cases in Vietnam in over three months.

Nguyen Thi Kieu Trinh and her family were ready to depart on their summer vacation to southern Phu Quoc Island in late July.

However, the 29-year-old white-collar worker from Hanoi had to cancel her plans after fresh community transmissions were reported in central Da Nang City. In the past five days, Da Nang with a population of 1.1 million has reported 26 cases alone.

"I would rather lose the money than risk getting infected on a plane or at the airport. Even staying in Hanoi makes me nervous," Trinh said, adding she has entered "Covid-19 mode" by wearing masks in public places and washing her hands regularly.

Trinh is among millions of Vietnamese rattled by the resurgence in domestic infections, the sources of which have yet to be determined.

According to a popular Saigon travel agency, as of July 26, over 20,000 of its patrons have canceled their holidays to the north and other tourism hotspots such as Nha Trang, Phu Yen, Phu Quoc, etc.

"Some even requested canceling tours to northwestern Vietnam during the September harvest season," Nguyen Van Tung, director of Tay Bac travel agency, told VnExpress.

Hanois Pho Hue Street iis quiet on the evening of July 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Phuong Anh.

Pho Hue Street in Hanoi is less busy on the evening of July 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Phuong Anh.

Many have bid farewell to the "new normal" life they had enjoyed these last few months.

Some coffee shops and restaurants across Hanoi said the number of customers has dropped as fears over new Covid-19 infection loom over the city.

On Sunday afternoon, a Starbucks in Hoan Kiem District saw less than a dozen patrons, as did the popular local pedestrian street and many other attractions.

"I did not think the situation in Da Nang would affect Hanoians that quickly, but we had a surprisingly quiet weekend," said Nguyen Tuan, 21, a Starbucks barista.

Luong Thi Anh Tuyet, owner of a noodle restaurant in Hanoi's Long Bien District, said fewer customers have visited her establishment and that she remains "ready to close in case of emergency."

With fears rising, masks and hand sanitizer have once again become must-have accessories.

In Hanoi, local authorities on July 25 again required locals to wear masks in public and increase hygiene measures.

Restaurants and workplaces across the capital are again requiring all entrees to wear masks and wash their hands regularly.

Many online vendors have taken advantage of the situation to sell masks at skyrocketing prices, although local supermarkets and convenience stores all confirm they had enough masks and hand sanitizer to meet current demand.

Family members of a patient in Da Nang Hospital, one of three hospital in the central city having Covid-19 patients, were taken to a quatantine facility on July 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.

Family members of a patient at Da Nang Hospital, one of three facilities in the central city treating Covid-19 patients, are taken for quarantine on July 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong.

According to Truong Hoang Vi, HR manager at an IT firm in Saigon's District 2, her company had asked all its 98 employees to complete health declarations Monday.

Two staff returning from Da Nang were requested to isolate themselves at home for the next two weeks and undergo Covid-19 testing as soon as possible, Vi said.

Other employers have ramped up their protection measures by checking body temperatures daily and asking employees to wear masks in common areas.

Medical experts have warned about the possibility of a second Covid-19 wave, which could strike if the country does not act quickly to contain the fresh outbreak.

In the wake of these cases, the government has ramped up prevention measures, including ordering a semi-lockdown and implement massive tests in Da Nang, now the country's largest coronavirus hotspot.

"I feel like we are going back to where we were in March and April," Trinh said. "It is not about when this pandemic ends. It is about living with it and keeping our eyes on it."

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