Illustration by Trịnh Lập
by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà
The latest COVID-19 outbreak has put Hà Nội's National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in lockdown for 14 days from May 5.
Since the first COVID-19 community case in this latest outbreak was found in Hà Nam Province on April 29, three days prior to a four-day national holiday, as of the time of writing on Thursday morning, the number of community cases hit 64 in just eight days.
New variants of the coronavirus from India and the UK have also been detected in Việt Nam.
The actions of the country in recent days are reminiscent of the world-famous hand-written letters by General Võ Nguyên Giáp when he called on the advancing troops to race faster to Sài Gòn in 1975 and reunite Việt Nam.
"Thần tốc, thần tốc hơn nữa," which literally translates as "flashing speed and faster," has encouraged today's health officials and ordinary citizens alike to quickly track down the source and new COVID-19 cases in Hà Nam, Yên Bái, Đà Nẵng, Vĩnh Phúc, HCM City and Hà Nội.
The country has been switched back on to alert mode to fight the coronavirus.
A quick list of communities that have reported positive cases have been developed by Hà Nội's Medical University's Practice Hospital for you to check.
After the four-day national holiday over the last weekend, health officials warned more coronavirus cases will spring up in the fortnight following the massive amount of people returning to work from beaches in Nha Trang, Vũng Tàu and Phú Quốc.
The haunting image of the news broadcast on national TV showed two identical pictures: one of people bathing in the Ganges River in India and the other of people enjoying the beaches in Việt Nam. Needless to say, the images were supposed to warn the public in Việt Nam to learn a lesson from the tragedy unfolding in India.
Over the past week, prior to the holiday, Việt Nam's Ambassador to India Phạm Sanh Châu wrote a heartfelt letter, regarding a young employee of the embassy in New Delhi, who had COVID-19 and was in a critical condition.
The eloquent letter not only told readers what was going on in India but also how the embassy has been coping with the situation and send signals to warn our fellow countrymen.
As another wave of positive cases will be tracked down, there is a new list of banned activities to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, with fines ranging from VNĐ3 million (US$135) to VNĐ40 million ($1,800) and jail sentences ranging from seven years to life in prison.
The Hà Nội People's Committee reported it collected VNĐ300 million ($13,000) of fines over the holiday weekend from fines on people in public spaces without a facemask.
The health chief officer in Lý Nhân District, Hà Nam Province has been suspended for lack of proper surveillance on a local resident during home quarantine. Provincial health officials in Yên Bái Province have been publicly warned for letting a COVID-19 patient get into close contact with a hotel employee and infecting them. Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long has also warned of positive cases within quarantine camps.
The centralised COVID-19 quarantine period has even been extended to 21 days, a dramatic change from the previous two-week duration. This means possible positive cases will be less likely to leak into the community, but increases the risk those in quarantine may catch the virus, the health minister warned.
In Đà Nẵng, local community COVID-19 mobile teams, born out of the last outbreak in July 2020, have been switched onto active mode. Local teams will announce virus prevention measures on public loudspeakers in local green markets and visit people under home quarantine to check their temperature and health conditions and provide them with food.
A3 plastic posters have been hung outside the residences of those under home quarantine to ward off unnecessary visits from neighbours and relatives, who have a heartwarming tradition of checking up on those who are sick.
An outsider may call this public shaming of those with the virus, but from a health point of view, this means people in quarantine don't have to rudely tell well-wishers to go away, the poster does it for them.
Under Vietnamese law, anyone who spreads a dangerous contagious disease to other people can be fined from VNĐ50 million ($2,270) to VNĐ200 million ($9,000) or be jailed for one to five years.
Final exams at schools across the country have been scheduled, but students have been ordered to stay at home and study online. It remains to be seen if they will have to take the final exams online as well.
A new fight with the coronavirus has begun at the country's top centre for treating this disease, and the country's newly-elected Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính faces a daunting task of sustaining the country's safety and growth, which was done well by his predecessor, when great teamwork from the last cabinet kept Việt Nam and its citizens safe and healthy, slowly escaping the pandemic that has wrecked the world with immense human losses. VNS