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HCMC informal workers, wrecked by pandemic, receive Covid support

By Ha An, Manh Tung   July 13, 2021 | 06:00 am PT
HCMC informal workers, wrecked by pandemic, receive Covid support
Vuong Chi Tai (R), a lottery ticket vendor, receives his Covid-19 financial aid of VND1.5 million at his home in District 1, HCMC, July 12, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ha An.
Informal workers impacted by the pandemic in HCMC, including street vendors and lottery ticket sellers, have received financial aid from a Covid-19 support package worth VND886 billion ($36.5 million).

At noon Monday, Da Kao Ward authorities in District 1 visited an alley on Dinh Tien Hoang Street as the mercury reached 36 degrees Celsius. Ha Minh Nhut, an official, stopped at each house to deliver aid.

Vuong Chi Tai, 72, who works as a lottery ticket seller, was among many to receive financial support worth VND1.5 million.

His entire family of five are all informal workers in Ho Chi Minh City. As the southern city underwent a 15-day social distancing order starting July 9, all had to stay home due to coronavirus restrictions. That meant their incomes, from Tai's lottery ticket selling and his grandchild's job as a car guard, were cut off.

"Yesterday, we were given rice and vegetables. Now with this money, we would be able to live better for the next few days," Tai said.

Around 10 houses away, 65-year-old Nguyen Thi Kim Loan and her family also found themselves in a precarious situation amid the pandemic. All four members of the family are street vendors and informal workers.

In each corner of her house, stacks of candies and other treats stick out like a sore thumb. Since the social distancing period began, the family has been unable to sell whatever goods were left. Watching as piles of stock gather dust, Loan couldn't help but tear up.

Each member of the family received VND1.5 million from authorities.

"I just want the pandemic to go away soon, so everyone could make a living to sustain themselves. That alone is enough," she said, adding she would use the money to buy rice and other food items to stash away, while the rest would go into her savings.

Nguyen Thi Kim Loan receives her Covid-19 financial aid of VND1.5 million at her home in District 1, HCMC, July 12, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ha An.

Nguyen Thi Kim Loan (R) receives her Covid-19 financial aid of VND1.5 million at her home in District 1, HCMC, July 12, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Ha An.

Around 750 people in Da Kao are informal workers, including street vendors, lottery ticket sellers and porters, according to ward data. They would need a total of VND900 million, with payments to be rolled out as soon as the District 1 People's Committee approves.

Ho Tien Duy, deputy chairman of Da Kao People's Committee, said the ward has been giving elderly workers, the disabled and those lacking the capacity for movement aid money since July 9. The rest of the funds would either be handed down to lower-level authorities for distribution or transferred directly to people's bank accounts, he said.

In Linh Trung Ward of Thu Duc City, around 60 informal workers, including lottery ticket vendors and scrap collectors, have also received financial aid. They were requested to visit the ward's office to receive the money while abiding by coronavirus control measures like social distancing and mask wearing.

Doan Thi Thanh Diep, deputy chairwoman of Linh Trung People's Committee, said the ward has around 1,500 informal workers that need financial support. Payments would be rolled out within this week, she added.

Last month, HCMC approved a VND886 billion financial package for citizens impacted by the pandemic. Besides around 230,000 informal workers who would receive VND1.5 million each, the package also covers around 80,000 workers who were suspended due to the pandemic, around 69,000 small businesses, as well as those inside quarantine zones and those working on the Covid frontline.

As of Tuesday, over 55,000 informal workers have received their money, worth around VND83 billion in total. All informal workers would receive their money before July 15, before city authorities move on to other recipients.

HCMC stands at the top in the number of cases and authorities have warned of a higher tally for the southern city in the coming days, given that they have kept detecting infections with unknown sources of transmission in the community every day.

The southern city has recorded 16,027 local cases so far in the fourth coronavirus wave since late April.

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