Social distancing leaves Saigon landmarks deserted

By Huynh Phuong   April 2, 2020 | 03:15 pm GMT+7
Urban life in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's largest metropolis, has ground to a halt as Covid-19 stalks the streets.
The empty street in Saigon Opera House in District 1

The intersection by Saigon Opera House in District 1 is an echo of its former bustle.

Local photographer Nguyen Ngoc Thien captured similar scenes of the deserted city from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m last Sunday, inspired by "The Great Empty" photo series in The New York Times

A view of Le Thanh Ton Street, which runs through the front of the Ho Chi Minh City Peoples Committee office in District 1. Ho Chi Minh City Peoples Committee Headquarters is one of the iconic architectural works of Saigon, built from 1898-1909. This place is normally crowded with people from morning till late on weekdays.

Le Thanh Ton Street, passing by the iconic Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Headquarters in District 1, built from 1898-1909.

Sparse traffic in the area around Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, District 1, was built by French colonialists between 1863 and 1880. It has two bell towers that stand at a height of 58 meters (190 feet).

The solitary Notre-Dame Cathedral, District 1, was built by French colonialists between 1863 and 1880. It has two bell towers that stand at a height of 58 meters.

Wide and empty roads heading toward Thu Thiem Tunnel, with Bitexco Tower can be seen in the distance. Bitexco Tower is one of the symbolic buildings of Saigon with 68 floors, 262.5 m high.

Deserted streets leading to Thu Thiem Tunnel and Bitexco Financial Tower (middle) in District 1 which contains 68 floors, and is 262.5 meters in height.

At its completion in 2010, Bitexco Financial Tower became the tallest building in Vietnam. The country's tallest now is HCMC's Landmark 81 in Binh Thanh District, at 461.5 metres high.

Few people driving on a section of Le Duan Street toward the Independence Palace in District 1.

Le Duan Street in front of the Independence Palace in District 1.

Numerous restaurants, pubs and shops on Bui Vien Street, which often packed with foreign tourists, have been shut down to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Numerous restaurants, pubs and shops on Bui Vien Street, often packed with foreign tourists, have been shut to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

On both sides of the street, rows of tall trees provide shades to the deserted Tran Hung Dao Street in Disitrct 1.

Rows of tall trees shade the deserted Tran Hung Dao Street in District 1.

The traffice in Phu Dong roundabout in District 1, which connects six major roads and where millions of people passing by every day, are no longer congested, bring some cleaner air to the downtown area. 

Phu Dong roundabout in District 1 stands idle, allowing a breath of fresh air to pass through the usually congested intersection. 

A man wearing facemask walks on the intersection of Le Lai and Pham Hong Thai streets. From March 28, 2020, HCMC administrative sanctions for people not wearing a face mask in public.

The intersection of Le Lai and Pham Hong Thai streets.

From March 28, 2020, HCMC authorities made it obligatory for people to wear masks in public places.

The Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, is full of green trees and have a more pleasant atmosphere than usual. Saigon is deserted and strangely gloomy during the pandemic when the usual bustling scenes are now replaced with shops on both sides of the road were closed. I hope Saigon will not be quite for so long and will soon return to the familiar vibrant lifestyle of a big city. This silence is probably the time for each of us to slow down, to reflect more on life. In difficult times, each individual should maintain a positive mindset and live more responsibly with the community, join hands with the Government to combat disease outbreaks and build a better Saigon after outbreak, Thien said.

"This silence is probably a good opportunity for each of us to slow down, and reflect more on life. In difficult times, each individual should maintain a positive mindset and act more responsibly within their community, join hands with the Government and build a better Saigon," Thien said.

Vietnam started a nationwide social distancing campaign Wednesday, not allowing gatherings of more than two people in public. A prime ministerial directive also calls for people in the same families, villages, communes, districts and cities to stay put where they are for 15 days.

People should only leave home for emergencies, buying food and medicine, and working in factories, production facilities and businesses that involve trade in "essential" goods and services, the directive says.

The number of coronavirus infections in the country has gone up to 222, including 64 who have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
 

 
 
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