|Free meals are offered to returnees waiting for COVID-19 tests at a checkpoint in Tháp Mười District, Mekong Delta province of Đồng Tháp. — VNA/VNS Photo Chương Đài|
ĐỒNG THÁP — Tens of thousands of migrants have left HCM City and other southern localities to return to their hometowns over the past few days after social distancing was eased.
For many, the journey was long, but they were supported on the way by local police and voluntary groups.
Between October 1 and 5, the Mekong Delta province of Đồng Tháp saw 23,813 people returning from COVID hotspots in HCM City, Bình Dương, Đồng Nai and Long An provinces.
The local authorities mobilised forces to manage traffic flow and assist returnees to complete required procedures.
Most of migrants going home are factory and construction workers as well as private business owners, who were stuck in HCM City and southern localities during the four months of social distancing.
But before they were reunited with their families, workers who had received both vaccine doses had to take COVID tests and spend three days in quarantine before entering Đồng Tháp Province followed by a further 14-day home quarantine.
Those who have not been vaccinated must quarantine for 14 days at a centralised facility.
However, according to the Ministry of Health's latest guidelines, people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered can quarantine at home for seven days once they return from major virus hotspots in the south instead of going to centralised quarantine areas.
Returnees waiting for tests at checkpoints have been asked to avoid gathering in a large crowd. They have also been given instant noodles, water and milk while waiting for procedures to be completed.
A voluntary team of mechanics called ‘SOS Tháp Mười’ are stationed at checkpoints to help repair motorbikes and cars.
Huỳnh Văn Hoài Hận, leader of ‘SOS Tháp Mười’ said on normal days the team worked from 8pm until midnight. In recent days when lots of people are on the roads, the team has been working around the clock.
They offer free services, repairs and even provide petrol for anyone in trouble on their way home.
Most of of people, including pregnant women, children and the elderly, have travelled a long distance and felt exhausted when they reached the checkpoint at Tháp Mười District.
The district’s women association volunteered to cook free meals for the returnees.
Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân, vice president of Tháp Mười District's Women's Association, said like the vehicle repair team, her group also worked around the clock preparing meals.
Lê Thành Công, chairman of the Fatherland Front Chapter of Đồng Tháp Province, praised the work of the volunteers and said all of those on duty also had health checks.
On October 5, the Fatherland Front Chapter of Đồng Tháp Province and other local political social organisations presented 13,500 meals to people in need and in quarantine as well as other essential items and medical equipment worth more than VNĐ1.3 billion.
Among more than 23,000 people returning to Đồng Tháp over the past days, 130 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Local authorities have prepared 111 centralised quarantine areas in the province to accommodate tens of thousands of returnees.
Deputy Secretary of the Đồng Tháp Provincial Party Committee, Phan Văn Thắng, said local authorities would welcome the returnees and help them stabilise their lives, which is the responsibility of the whole political system.
The utmost target is to ensure public health and prevent community virus transmissions, he said. — VNS