300 homeless people sent to shelters as HCMC tightens Covid restrictions

By Dinh Van   August 25, 2021 | 12:58 pm GMT+7
Around 300 homeless people in HCMC have been gathered and sent to shelters, and many have tested positive for Covid-19.

As soldiers and police officers patrolled Vo Thi Sau Ward in District 3 on Tuesday, they found a 65-year-old man with a backpack sitting on a sidewalk on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street.

"I have been unemployed for two months now, and as I am broke I have no place to live but on the streets," he said sobbing to the police.

He used to work as a mason in his hometown in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, but quit due to his age and moved to HCMC in May and worked as a security guard at a shop.

But many stores had to shut down due to social distancing when Covid resurged in late May, and he has been jobless since then and could not afford to rent a house. He has lived on the streets and relied on the kindness of people for food.

A 65-year-old homeless man on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street in HCMCs District 3 talks to the police, August 24, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

A 65-year-old homeless man on Cach Mang Thang Tam Street in HCMC's District 3 talks to the police, August 24, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van

He said: "I had my wallet with ID cards stolen one night when sleeping on the streets so I could not reach out to anyone to get back home." Provinces in central Vietnam have been organizing trips to help migrants stuck in pandemic-hit localities to go back home, but one needs an ID card to show their registered hometown to get supported.

Four kilometers away, dozens of homeless people, including beggars, who had been staying at September 23 Park in Pham Ngu Lao Ward of District 1 were gathered and sent to a shelter.

Some gathered together and refused to go, and had to be forced.

Le Tan Dat, the ward Party chief, said of the 30 people found in the park, four have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

In neighboring District 4, in the last two days officials have gathered 116 homeless people living along Vo Van Kiet Street and beneath Mong and Calmette bridges and sent them to shelters.

The first test found 11 of them to be positive.

Do Thi Truc Mai, deputy chairwoman of District 4, said some are poor people who have been sent back home and many are drug addicts.

"Ensuring food for those people is not a hard task but managing them is. In most of their cases, public awareness is not high and leaving them in the community poses a high risk of spreading Covid-19. For now the district plans to handle each group of vagrants differently."

A group of vagrants is gathered in District 4, August 24, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Su

A group of vagrants is gathered in District 4, August 24, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Su

An official at the city Social Support Center said in the past two days around 300 homeless people have been brought to shelter and tested.

"They will be offered food and tested frequently."

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam had on Monday instructed the city to gather and test homeless people, and isolate those with Covid.

For almost three months now the city has been the epicenter of Vietnam’s fourth coronavirus wave which emerged four months ago.

It has so far had 184,872 cases and 7,302 deaths. Vietnam’s biggest city imposed a series of social distancing mandates, with the latest running until September 15. People are also banned from going out between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. except in cases like medical emergencies.

The government has said it wants the city to bring the coronavirus situation under control by Sept. 15.

 
 
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