No worries, say foreigners quarantined in Vietnam

By Viet Anh   May 19, 2021 | 08:58 pm PT
Whether it is practicing yoga, interviewing prospective employees or teaching online, foreigners are dealing with their mandated quarantining with minimum fuss.

Australian Jack Smith arrived in HCMC on May 15 with a detailed plan for being quarantined in a hotel. Yoga and some detox practices were part of it.

Smith, 49, has come to Vietnam on a business visa for a short term contract as an expert on leadership development. His plan is to stay as long as his visa allows and obtain a spousal resident permit as his partner is Vietnamese.

In the long term, he plans to shift to an investor visa and establish his own consulting firm in the country. Therefore, Smith is using his quarantine time as a chance to do some business research as well as some study of Vietnam’s culture and history.

"Moreover, quarantine is a good time for meditation," he says.

Malaysian Kavin Martinus is also meditating "once every few days to relax" while he is quarantined in HCMC with his wife.

Martinus, 52, is in Vietnam to manage his company's cargo business in HCMC and Hanoi. The company represents several international airlines and plans to operate air cargo charter services. He envisages the company doing long term business in the country.

During his quarantine period that ended May 15, Martinus stuck to a routine of getting up early at around 6 a.m. and going through an exercise routine. Next, he watched the news and had his breakfast. A smart TV in the hotel room helped "keep things alive." He also frequented Vietnam-related forums on social media to keep himself in the loop.

The Malaysian also worked from his hotel room. He exchanged emails with business associates and busied himself completing some business applications online to save time. He also carried out some interviews on the phone to recruit staff.

Martinus said this was his third quarantine in three cities in six months, and the longest, but he came prepared.

"I always bring my favorite coffee blend and some healthy snacks to keep my mood up."

Kavin Martinus and his wife in quarantine hotel in HCMC in May. Photo courtesy of Kavin Martinus.

Kavin Martinus and his wife in a quarantine hotel in HCMC in May 2021. Photo courtesy of Kavin Martinus.

British citizen Abigail Weegram has been quarantined along with her partner. The couple have come for marketing related work in HCMC and plan to stay here for a year.

Weegram, 27, spends a lot of time watching Netflix and does some work for her company back in the U.K. to "keep me busy." Her boyfriend, Chris, holds online classes for students abroad.

Weegram and Chris also try to get up early and "make the most of the day." They will complete their quarantine on Friday.

The mother of a three-year-old boy, Thailand’s Belle Wns, only had free time for watching TV or chatting when her son slept. In the quarantine hotel in HCMC, Wns was busy all day taking care of her son as they waited to reunite with her husband who works on Phu Quoc Island in Kien Giang Province. The family had gone to Thailand last year and were returning now.

Wns and her son completed their quarantine on May 15.

‘Feel safe here’

Weegram, in Vietnam for the first time, admitted that she and her partner felt some frustration when they were informed on day seven that the quarantine period had been extended to 21 days from 14. But she understood the necessity for it.

"We feel safe here," noting that measures in her hometown were not good enough to contain the pandemic. She said she also did not mind taking different tests because "they make sense." The couple had not been vaccinated before arriving in Vietnam.

She has a suggestion to make, though. She said authorities should consider giving people quarantined in hotels some exercise options. In her case, she does not have a balcony, so had no option of getting some fresh air apart from opening the windows.

Weegram also finds the food very repetitive. There's not much choice of food and there's a lot of rice. She is unable to order food online as the restaurants are far away. She's two hours away from HCMC.

Abigail Weegram and her partner Chris are in UK before leaving for Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Abigail Weegram.

Abigail Weegram and her partner Chris are in the U.K. before leaving for Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Abigail Weegram.

Martinus found that allowing food from outside helps people in quarantine feel better. He also suggests that hotels allow people to go to an area for walking about and getting some fresh air "in an appropriate way."

"The mental state is important. People may fall ill or get depressed if they are not used to being in a closed area for so many days."

Martinus feels that the 21-day quarantine period needs to be continued to reduce the chances of Covid -19 spreading easily, based on the current situation in Vietnam.

For his part, Smith thinks hotel quarantines could have been responsible for small outbreaks because of a breakdown in infection control protocols by the staff.

Before he came to Vietnam, Smith had quarantine in a resort in Seychelles and he saw that people were allowed to roam around the resort and interact with staff and other guests, thus making quarantining pointless.

Smith has been vaccinated and recognizes that Covid-19 taking hold in the community can be devastating for the country and its people.

"So I am fully prepared to comply with whatever protocols are required in Vietnam."

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