Vietnamese diaspora relieved as Europe moves towards post Covid-19 stability

By Thanh Tam   May 31, 2021 | 06:01 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese diaspora relieved as Europe moves towards post Covid-19 stability
People enjoy the evening in front of a bar after the Hungarian government allowed the reopening of outdoor terraces, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in Budapest, Hungary, April 24, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Bernadett Szabo.
The Vietnamese diaspora in Europe are thankful and relieved that life is slowly returning to normal after being upturned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ngoc Anh, who lives in the Czech Republic’s Hradec Králové City, about 100 km away from the capital Prague, said:"I feel much happier when I see things gradually stabilize; people can start doing business again and children can go to school instead of studying remotely."

She said life in the Czech Republic was gradually returning to normal, with infection rates decreasing and vaccination rates increasing.

The country's average number of daily infections is now 650, less than 5 percent of the peak of more than 15,000 at the end of October last year, according to Reuters. The nation has reported more than 1.6 million infections and 30,000 deaths so far.

The Czech Republic began easing pandemic related restrictions on April 12, lifting a night time curfew imposed early March. Children can return to school, but are required to wear masks and get tested twice a week. Clothing stores, outdoor farmers' markets, zoos and botanical gardens are also on the list of establishments to be reopened soon, an AP report said.

"Almost everything has reopened. The restaurants only sell food for takeout now, but in a week they can open normally," Anh said.

Like many other European countries, the Czech Republic is also implementing a campaign to vaccinate its people. The country of more than 10.6 million people has received more than 4.7 million doses of vaccine, 32.9 percent of the population has received at least one dose and 11.6 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to online publication Our World in Data.

Ngoc Anh said that her family have had two shots of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. "Everyone experienced a slight swelling and pain in the injected area. But we felt fine the following day," she said, adding that she supports Europe's plan to implement a "vaccine passport" scheme as a solution for people to travel freely between countries without undergoing quarantine.

In Woking Town, Surrey County in southeast England, about 30 minutes by train from London, Le Ha is also happy that the particular and Europe in general is gradually opening up.

"Life won't completely return to normal as it used to be, but everyone is happy because they are no longer living in fear. People are feeling more comfortable and less stressed mentally," she said.

Ha said she does not feel too worried when going out now, partly because the U.K. still maintains the regulation of wearing masks and keeping a safe distance, and partly because of the increasing vaccination rate.

In a country of more than 66.6 million people, 56.1 percent of the population have had at least one jab of the Covid-19 vaccine and 33.7 percent have got the full dose, according to Our World in Data.

"I plan to get the vaccine in two weeks, but most of the people I come into contact with are already vaccinated, so I feel quite reassured," Ha said.

Britain experienced several bad winter months with millions living under blockade orders and the emergence of more infectious Covid-19 strains. In January alone, the U.K. reported nearly 32,000 Covid-19 deaths. With strong quarantine measures and efforts to deploy a quick and effective vaccine, the country has finally obtained positive results. The number of infections and deaths has decreased.

The U.K. currently reports more than 2,400 new infections a day, about 4 percent compared of the peak time in January, while the average number of deaths was seven. The country has recorded nearly 4.47 million infections and more than 127,700 deaths.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans to lift social distancing regulations at the end of June.

Ha said that while things have not returned to normal, she is still happy to be able to go out and go back to work. She considers herself luckier than many people who are unemployed or bankrupt because of the pandemic.

"It's great to see that my loved ones and I are still healthy. Now everyone hopes that life will return to normal soon, so that everyone can comfortably meet friends, family, and enjoy life – travel and participate in many activities as they did before, without always wearing a mask," she said.

Recovery begins in dreary Paris

Minh Phuong, a Paris resident, said she returned to France in February when the Covid-19 was showing signs of resurgence.

"Although the vaccination campaign started in January, the pace was slow and it was limited to the elderly. By the end of March, the French President again announced new isolation periods for some areas including Paris and northern regions, before expanding them to the whole country," Phuong said.

She said the isolation order did not severely restrict travel activities for personal reasons. People could go for walks within a 10km radius of their home or gather in small groups. However, the closure of shopping malls, restaurants, cinemas and many other places made life in France bleak.

"Paris, which used to be an entertainment hub with countless cultural and artistic activities, has now become dreary. I faced many difficulties at work when France closed the border with non-European countries."

By the end of April, the Covid-19 situation in France showed signs of improvement after the vaccination campaign was accelerated. This has created conditions for France to open up, gradually.

France, which has a population of more than 67 million people, has reported more than 5.6 million infections and more than 108,000 deaths. More than 34.2 percent of the population have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 14.7percent are fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

A semblance of normal life returned to Paris after a six month hiatus on May 19, when residents were allowed to drink coffee at outdoor cafes or visit museums.

"On May 19, Parisians poured out into the streets, waited in long queues outside the shops and sat in open air bars despite the cloudy and windy weather. My friends invited each other to go to the movies, some of them even went to cinema several times in a few days after being cooped up for so long," Phuong said.

Phuong said she believes that the plan to apply vaccine passports in the near future in Europe will encourage more people to get vaccinated. She also plans to get the vaccine in June, after returning from a business trip in Tunisia.

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