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Expats face tough time amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam

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As Vietnam struggles to cope with the fourth outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, expats who find themselves thousands of kilometres away from their homes have seen their lives turned upside down.

Adapting to the new situations with strict social distancing regulations is not easy for anyone, let alone foreigners who do not have a family around for support and do not speak Vietnamese.

With stringent restrictions in place in many localities, a simple thing like doing groceries can turn out to be a challenging task.

Adrian John Leeds, a Brit living in Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, said he was struggling to buy food during the early days when the city applied strict social distancing under Directive 16 in late July.

“In the beginning of the lockdown, it was really tough,” he told Việt Nam News. 

“The only place I could safely buy food was my local small grocery store. But, they ran out of food very quickly and all that was left was ‘student food’ like noodles and sausages.”

This resulted in him losing three kilogrammes over a month.

Luckily, the problem resolved over time as the shop eventually restocked and he was able to buy more food to meet his needs.

Adrian has been living in Vietnam for three years working as a photographer and founder of a design consultancy.

He said before COVID, he would regularly travel to other Southeast Asian countries for work and pleasure.

Now, he mostly stays at home and only goes out once or twice a week to get groceries and even could not meet his Vietnamese fiancée in person for six weeks although they don’t live too far apart.

Amid the gloomy days, a nice surprise has come to him that warmed his heart. On September 3, local officials came to his house to give him a COVID-19 supportive package – a bag full of essential food, health supplies and VND500,000 (US$22).

“I am very happy with the support I have received, even if it’s a small gesture,” he added.

“I was not expecting anything. I felt like I was not forgotten. It seems like the Government wants to look after its expat community.”  

Expats face tough time amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam
Adrian John Leeds posing for a photo with the items in the COVID-19 supportive package he received from the local authority in Hanoi. Photo courtesy of Adrian John Leeds

Unlike Adrian, Chris Saint, an Australian retiree living in Hoi An did not have trouble buying food.

But for him, the main issue was access to accurate information.

Chris cited the fact that most decisions and decrees by the authority are announced in Vietnamese without an English translation while many expats cannot speak the language.

“Expats are often in the dark to the details of any government action,” he said. This makes it harder for them to comply and difficult for them to access services.”

As a locality which saw a rapid rise in COVID infections, Hoi An started social distancing orders under Decree 16 on July 31.

“There were issues in the first week of the lockdown due to lack of clarity,” Chris said.

“Many foreigners have to rely on information from social media as a primary source of information.”

As an administrator of a Facebook group for expats living in Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue with nearly 10,000 members, Chris has been sharing as much information as possible, especially from official media outlets published in English “to promote factual information.”

He added that another problem many expats were facing was financial difficulties.

Personally, Christ is not bearing this burden as his family has their own savings to keep them going through this tough time.

Expats face tough time amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam
Chris Saint (left) doing voluntary work for a charity in Hoi An to help disadvantaged people in the locality. Photo courtesy of Chris Saint

But from his observation, he said it was a real issue for many expats who had lost their income and did not have the reserves to sustain themselves for a long period of time.

Matt Ryan, a British owner of a restaurant in Thu Duc City, HCM City, also lost his regular income as his restaurant had to close for months amid the severe COVID outbreak in the southern economic hub.

His business was only allowed to reopen on September 8 when the city eased some restrictions but he and his staff are still struggling to keep it running amid shortage of input materials.

However, for Matt, this is a small price to pay in order for the country to contain the pandemic and bring society back to its feet.

“It’s tough, it’s really tough,” he said.

“But our city is facing an unprecedented emergency and the authorities are doing what they think is best to get it under control and protect the hospitals from being completely overrun.”

Although his business was disrupted, Matt didn’t let any time be wasted. He and his staff in the restaurant decided to cook free meals to frontline workers in the city.

Expats face tough time amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Vietnam
Matt Ryan uses his free time during lockdown to cook and deliver free food to frontline workers. Photo courtesy of Matt Ryan

Thinking positively is the way he chooses to navigate this challenging time.

“We have to be strong, look after one another and stay positive as best we can. This too shall pass,” he said.

Matt also appreciates the Government’s efforts in supporting the expat community.

He and his wife both had their first vaccination shot arranged by the local authority.

“There was no difference in the procedure to get the vaccine between local people and foreigners,” he said.

Christ Saint also feels blessed that he is now in Vietnam.

“I feel safe where I am due to the efforts of the Government and the frontline people. Safer than I would in my own home country,” he said.

Like Matt, Christ spent time doing charity work to provide free food to poor people in his neighbourhood.

“Could life be better? Absolutely. There has never been a time better than now to appreciate what you do have,” he said.

“People need to value health and family above everything else. Prosperity will have to wait.”

Source: Vietnam News 

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/society/expats-face-tough-time-amid-the-covid-19-outbreak-in-vietnam-774711.html

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People enjoy outdoor exercise in Ho Chi Minh City’s low-risk district

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Residents of two wards in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City took part in physical activities at local parks for the first time in months on Tuesday afternoon as local authorities began piloting another step to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

The People’s Committee of District 7 held a ceremony to launch a trial of the resumption of physical training and sports facilities on Tuesday afternoon, following the announcement of the scheme a day earlier.

The new regulation took effect immediately for people living in the district’s Tan Phong and Tan Phu Wards, home to a large expat community, before being applied to all wards.

Residents of those two wards are allowed to walk and exercise in two parks — Canh Doi on N-Nam Street and the S area of Nam Vien Park — and five tennis courts for a ten-day period until September 30.

The time frame for outdoor exercises is regulated at 6:00 am – 8:00 am and 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm, while only those that have completed two doses of COVID-19 vaccine or recovered from the disease within the past six months are permitted to work out.

They must reside in a green zone as shown in the city’s COVID-19 map bando.tphcm.gov.vn and register with ward authorities for permission.

Everyone must wear face masks and keep a distance of two meters from one another while the number of people is limited at the scale of one person per ten square meters.

People go for a walk at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

People go for a walk on a footbridge at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

If the trial phase goes smoothly, from October 1 onward, outdoor exercise and sports activities would be expanded to all ten wards of District 7.

Indoor sports clubs, football fields, stadiums, and all parks equipped with workout equipment are expected to resume operation in this period.

In this phase, those having one COVID-19 shot would be allowed to exercise while wearing a mask would be mandatory.

A woman goes for a walk with her baby at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

A woman goes for a walk with her baby on a footbridge at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

The epicenter of Vietnam’s fourth COVID-19 wave that emerged in late April, with 348,220 community transmissions, Ho Chi Minh City has gone through various levels of social distancing since June.

Tuesday afternoon is the first time people in District 7 have stepped out of their homes for outdoor exercises since July 9 as the city’s dwellers have been requested not to make unnecessary travels.

The district’s authorities have gradually loosened COVID-19 restrictions after declaring its control over the coronavirus pandemic.

“I feel excited to go for a walk in the park as I’ve never stayed home for so long,” said Nguyen Thi Thanh, a resident of Tan Phong Ward.

People go for a walk at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

People go for a walk at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

A man goes for a walk with his son at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

A man goes for a walk with his son at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

People go for a walk at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

People go for a walk at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

People are granted permits to go for walk at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

People are granted permits to go for walk at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

An officer patrols as people go for a walk at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

An officer patrols as people go for a walk at a park in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, September 21, 2021. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tien Phong

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210922/people-enjoy-outdoor-exercise-in-ho-chi-minh-citys-lowrisk-district/63218.html

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Storm Dianmu weakens into tropical depression after hitting central Vietnam

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Storm Dianmu weakens into tropical depression after hitting central Vietnam

Storm Dianmu has damaged a house in Binh Dong Commune, Binh Son District, Quang Ngai Province, September 23, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Linh


Two hours after making landfall on Thua Thien Hue and Quang Ngai provinces early Friday, Dianmu has weakened into a depression.

The storm entered the central strip of Vietnam around 4 a.m. Friday.

According to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, the depression that used to be the storm now lies at the Vietnam-Laos border area, with its strongest wind speed at 40 kph.

No human casualties have been reported so far.

Within Friday, it will move in the west-northwest direction at a speed of 15-20 kph.

Under the storm’s influence, provinces along the central strip from Quang Tri to Binh Dinh had received rainfall of 100-200 millimeters and up to 350 millimeters in several places from 7 a.m. on Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday.

Central Highlands provinces of Kon Tum and Gia Lai received rainfall of 80-150 mm and more than 150 mm at some places.

Provinces of Ha Tinh to Thua Thien Hue should expect rainfall of 80-150 mm or higher within Friday.

Dinanmu is the sixth storm that has entered the East Sea so far this year.

Source: https://e.vnexpress.net/news/news/storm-dianmu-weakens-into-tropical-depression-after-hitting-central-vietnam-4361287.html

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Over 67% of Covid-19 patients at HCM City Covid-19 Resuscitation Hospital need psychological support

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According to a survey by the Covid-19 Resuscitation Hospital in HCM City, up to 67% of patients said they wanted to have psychological counseling.

Hơn 67% F0 ở Bệnh viện Hồi sức Covid-19 muốn được hỗ trợ tâm lý
Psychologist Tri Thi Minh Thuy talks with a severe Covid-19 patient who has recovered from the disease and is about to be discharged from the hospital. Photo: Cho Ray Hospital.

According to the survey, 20% of the patients suffered depression, 53.3% with anxiety disorder, and 16.7% with stress.

In particular, up to 66.7% patients who needed High Flow Nasal Cannula (HFNC) suffered from depression. Similarly, 66.7% patients who had to breathe oxygen through a mask or mechanical ventilator suffered from anxiety disorder.

As many as 67% of patients wanted psychological counseling during treatment and after being discharged from the hospital.

The hospital has invited psychologist Tri Thi Minh Thuy from the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ho Chi Minh City, to survey and provide psychological treatment support for patients at the hospital.

“When they go to the hospital for Covid-19 treatment, patients have to be away from their families and fight the virus alone to survive so it’s easy to cause sadness and loss of appetite,” said Dr. Thuy.

“Seeing me, many patients remained still. I said if you agree to talk to me, please give me a sign. They understood what I was saying but did not do anything. I had to help them eat and drink, talk to them, give them a massage, then they began to open their hearts,” she said.

After getting into contact with many severely ill Covid-19 patients, Dr. Thuy concluded that they suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, or depression. This is why they need a psychologist.

Tu Anh

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/society/over-67-of-covid-19-patients-at-hcm-city-covid-19-resuscitation-hospital-need-psychological-support-776618.html

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