|A police officer of Vinh City checks documents of a driver passing through Bến Thủy checkpoint. — VNA/VNS Photo Tá Chuyên|
NGHỆ AN — In scorching temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius, police officers on duty at COVID-19 checkpoints in Vinh City, central Nghệ An Province, have been working around the clock.
The city’s authorities have set up 13 checkpoints at gateways and dozens of checkpoints outside lockdown areas to control people leaving and entering the city.
Local soldiers, transport inspectors and other forces have joined the police team. Their task is to check COVID-19 documents, tell drivers not to enter restricted areas if they do not have the right documents, and ask them to make health declarations.
Lieutenant Hồ Sỹ Nam, a traffic police officer working at a checkpoint on the Bến Thủy Bridge connecting Nghệ An and Hà Tĩnh provinces, works under the sun for six hours per day, leaving his skin red and burnt.
The Bến Thủy checkpoint has 14 officers working in four six-hour shifts a day.
Nam said: “We feel like the sun is burning us when working between noon and 6pm. But if we stop working for a while, the road section will be congested and many drivers will have to wait for their turn. Most of the officers on duty do not have time to shelter from the sun.”
Nguyễn Trọng Long, a member of the local civil-defence force, starts his shift at 7am and finishes at 3pm.
His task is to help police officers stop drivers to check their documents and ask them to make health declarations. He has to stay outdoors for most of his shift.
“It’s hottest from 10am. The sun and heat from the road surface make the real temperature rise to 43-45 degrees Celsius. In spite of the heat, we encourage each other to complete our tasks in order to contain the pandemic soon,” he said.
Lieutenant Trần Hải Hoàn, a police officer of Nghệ An, has been dispatched to work at a checkpoint in Hưng Hòa Commune, which is located next to a field far from the city centre and does not have any tree shade. They have erected a small tent as a shelter for officers to rest when there are few people and vehicles passing through.
“Although there are not many drivers passing, it does not mean our work is not hard. The checkpoint is on a dyke section with no trees around. We have to open all tent windows to make ourselves less stuffy. Sitting inside the tent, everyone sweats,” Hoàn said.
A local woman named Tạ Thị Hằng, who lives on Phùng Khắc Khoang Street, Vinh City, has given iced water and free meals to the officers on duty to encourage them.
Colonel Trần Ngọc Tuấn from the police department of Nghệ An Province said local authorities have arranged places for the officers to eat and rest. At key checkpoints, containers and buses with air-conditioners have also been set up as temporary resting places. However, most of the officers and soldiers do not have time to rest because of the heavy workload. — VNS