Victoria’s lockdown has been dubbed one of the world’s harshest, but some Vietnamese residents are begging to differ, saying the restrictions in their country have been even harder.
Melbournians have been in lockdown for more than 200 days in the past 12 months.
Sang Quang had been studying in Melbourne through the pervious 2020 lockdowns and has now returned to Vietnam. She says Covid restrictions are much tenser in Ho Chi Minh City.
Vietnam imposed a restriction of movement in early July to prevent the spread of the deadly Delta variant. Nonetheless, authorities now admit that’s failed to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
Ho Chi Minh City went into strict lockdown on August 23, with more than 12,000 health personnel and more than 14,000 soldiers from throughout the country helping in the reduction of death tolls and infections.
The military is enforcing the strict stay at home order. While Melburnians have five reasons they can go out, including to shop and exercise for up to two hours a day, Ho Chi Minh City residents are not allowed out for any reason.
“People are not even allowed to do exercise and buy necessities themselves like in Melbourne,” Quang says.
The government has deployed troops to distribute food and to prevent people from leaving their homes.
“People who work in delivering essential goods are only allowed to move within their residential districts,” Quang says, and then they must take a Covid-19 test at least two days a week.
According to Vietnam’s Minister of Health, only 17.4 percent of Ho Chi Minh City residents are unvaccinated, which is 24.5 percent lower than in Victoria.
Even though 82 percent of the population of Ho Chi Minh City has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, new cases and fatalities continue to emerge.
“The growth of the pandemic in Ho Chi Minh City is becoming more and more complicated,” Quang says in response to why Vietnam imposes harsher restrictions in the city.
According to Vietnam’s Minister of Health, Ho Chi Minh City has seen an average of 5497 cases each day over the past seven days, compared with 103 cases in Victoria.
Bun Dang, a Vietnamese student at Melbourne Education Institute whose family is self-isolating in Ho Chi Minh City, is concerned about the situation. Dang believes that staying in Melbourne would be a better option for him.
Dang’s family runs a beverage shop located at Nguyen Thong market in the city’s District 3. “At least I can still cover my living expenses here, which will help relieve the financial strain on my family, as it is difficult for them to run the business at this time,” Dang says.
Dang works as a waiter at a restaurant but, due to lockdowns, he has lost all his 20 hours of work.
Dang was eligible for the Victorian Government’s COVID disaster support payment for the income he lost.
Quang added: “Vietnam doesn’t have as many support policies as Melbourne. Acknowledging the problem, many large businesses and people who live in better circumstances actively assist those who face numerous challenges in their daily lives.”
Ho Chi Minh City recorded 9592 fatalities as of September 2, accounting for 79 per cent of the country’s total death toll. It has more than half the nation’s total COVID cases, with more than a quarter of a million confirmed cases among its population of 8.993 million.
While the Victorian government plans to relax some restrictions by September 23, the reopening date of Vietnam’s largest city is yet to be determined.