Our pandemic fight is pandemonium at lower levels

By Mai Thang   December 29, 2021 | 03:37 pm PT
Our pandemic fight is pandemonium at lower levels
People walk in front of a food and drink establishment in Hanoi, which has suspended in-person dining amid a Covid-19 surge, December 26, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu
As we continue to fight the Covid-19 pandemic as a nation, a haphazard, uncoordinated mess has been generated at lower administrative levels as different quarantine protocols get entangled.

Starting December 25, eight inner Hanoi districts – Hoan Kiem, Ba Dinh, Hoang Mai, Long Bien, Nam Tu Liem, Tay Ho, Dong Da and Hai Ba Trung – were classified as being at high coronavirus risk.

As these districts impose a set of preventive measures and bans, residents are moving to "safer" places to enjoy greater freedoms, rendering the measures moot.

Meanwhile, different cities and provinces have established their own quarantine protocols for those coming in from areas with different risk levels.

For instance, Lao Cai and Hai Phong require people coming from high-risk areas to self-isolate for seven days, while those from very high-risk areas have to spend seven days in centralized quarantine. Quang Ninh, meanwhile, will have those coming from both high and very-high risk areas in centralized camps, while Ninh Binh said everyone coming from Hanoi must be isolated and tested before retracting the decision and saying only those from medium and high-risk areas need to do so. Some localities like Moc Chau, Ha Giang and Hoa Binh are allowing people from high and very high-risk areas to enter on the condition that they are fully vaccinated and must have tested negative for the coronavirus within the previous 72 hours.

And this mini maze for people traveling through different localities is just a sampling. What happens if things are similar across the nation? Vietnam has already entered its third year of the Covid-19 pandemic and gone through four infection waves, so why aren't we doing better as a whole unit? Why are localities still not coordinating with each other on fundamental prevention protocols?

The capital city has already allowed Covid-19 patients and their close contacts to stay home if they can; and the country has already gotten used to the notion of co-existing with the virus.

In reality, however, local authorities are still scrambling and stepping on each other’s toes as they decide how best to fight the virus. There are places that have lockdowns and there are places where non-essential activities remain operational. This kind of dissonance spells trouble for everyone, especially those who travel between different locations.

Let’s face it, "Zero Covid" is not happening and central leadership has made that clear. The only way ahead is to live with the virus, work for economic recovery, restore production, tourism and other industries and sectors. I don’t think it is wise to continue quarantining people from different regions, not in this uncoordinated, haphazard fashion anyway. Let’s not make the cure worse than the disease.

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