Responding to Covid-19 the way Saigon people

Ho Chi Minh CityWhenever she hears the emergency siren under the house, in District 3, Hoang Thi Thu Hong always steps out on the balcony to see if anyone infected with nCoV is admitted to the hospital.

Last weekend, when a neighbor got sick, Hong, 43, became worried and went to the pharmacy to buy a Covid-19 quick test kit for her family.

“I also buy cold and fever medicine, ready in case anyone in the house gets sick,” she said.

Hong is not the only one preparing for a bad situation in the context of the Covid-19 outbreak in the city. As the whole country copes with challenging circumstances, people in Ho Chi Minh City try to follow the media to get all the information. As of the morning of August 7, the city recorded more than 115,000 cases of nCoV infection.

Ms. Truong Thi Trieu, 47 years old, living in a blockaded area in District 3, reads the latest news every evening. Besides watching traditional news channels to get a general overview of the rapid development of the pandemic, she also went on social media to find out about the neighborhood situation.

Through chat groups, she knows which neighbors have been infected with nCoV, when they will be hospitalized. She also joins online groups to share and learn from her experience of treating Covid-19 at home. She recorded many important phone numbers such as the local support hotline, the contact information of the ambulance driver, the person who provided the free oxygen tanks and many others.

“Everyone prepares by updating information about Covid-19,” she said.

Pharmacist at a pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Quynh Tran

Many people have been vaccinated against Covid-19, but are still worried about contracting the disease. They prepare rapid test kits, thermometers, blood pressure monitors, oxygen saturation meters, antipyretics, pain relievers and other minor ailments.

Ms. Nguyen Mai Uyen Truc, a preschool teacher, has received the first dose of the vaccine but is still worried about herself and her loved ones. The mother-of-two has stocked up on all the necessary medicine and learned about home treatments for asymptomatic nCoV infections.

“I also save all the articles on how to test for Covid-19 at home, certified videos of doctors on breathing exercises for patients,” she said.

She reminded her husband and children to take medicine to strengthen their resistance, drink lemon juice every day to supplement vitamins.

Many people anticipate being away from their families if they are hospitalized. They teach their children to be more independent.

Before the pandemic, like many other high school students, 16-year-old Nguyen Gia Bao was always busy with her studies, only helping with housework such as washing and cleaning on weekends. The kitchen work is often entrusted to the mother. Gia Bao sometimes goes out to eat with friends on special occasions.

But since the fourth wave of Covid-19 started at the end of April, his mother taught him how to make basic braised and stewed vegetables.

“Since there’s no longer a delivery service, I taught my son to cook so he could live well if something happened to me and my husband,” his mother explained. She also taught him how to store food in the refrigerator.


After two months of implementing different levels of social distancing, the people of Ho Chi Minh City know that vaccination is the only hope to end the Covid-19 nightmare.

In the city of more than 7.2 million people aged 18 and over, more than 1.6 million people have been vaccinated so far.

In many neighborhoods, people closely monitor vaccination progress, encourage others to sign up, and prepare themselves.

“My neighbor said she had a slight fever after the first dose, so my family bought some medicines,” said Nguyen Hoang Lan, from District 11, said. She will be vaccinated this week.

A teenager in Ho Chi Minh City helps his family with housework.  Photo: Huu Khoa

A teenager in Ho Chi Minh City helps his family with housework. Photo: Huu Khoa

In 21 districts and Thu Duc city, 624 vaccination points were established. Priority groups are frontline workers, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.

In recent days, the city has deployed mobile vaccination teams in some isolation facilities and blocked areas to speed up the progress.

Ho Chi Minh City leaders said the city is taking advantage of the time of social distancing to inject about a million doses of vaccine to the people. The city has expanded the number of vaccination centers, and it is expected that 70% of its 9 million population will receive a dose of the vaccine this month.

But to achieve that goal, in a recent meeting with the National Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, the city asked the government and the Ministry of Health to provide more vaccines.

While many elderly people have been vaccinated, young people are still eagerly waiting for their turn to be vaccinated. They also prepare a plan to deal with the virus if unfortunately.

In District 3, Ms. Hong cleans the balcony and sprays disinfectant with alcohol every day, worried that the virus from the infected neighbor may stay in the air.

“I had a sore throat last week and was afraid that I had nCoV. So I checked my sense of smell continuously. I felt very relieved when the test later came back negative,” she said. “But I don’t know when the virus will reach me and my family, so I practiced breathing techniques for people with Covid-19 in case of need.”

Dang Khoa – Long Nguyen


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