Ho Chi Minh City: COVID-19 cases up, Tết celebrations put on hold
Vietnam reported 470 new cases in the past two weeks. The country is one of the least affected by the pandemic. Shows and events have been cancelled in the big cities. Farmers and flower growers suffer losses. Provinces hit by the floods are in serious difficulty.
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The increase in coronavirus cases has interrupted preparations for Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, which falls next Friday. This is having serious negative repercussions for the local economy.
With just over 2,000 cases and 35 deaths, Vietnam is one of the countries that seems to have best contained the pandemic. However, the Vietnamese Health Ministry reported 470 new cases for the period of 27 January to 9 February alone.
The central government reacted by adopting strict preventive measures across the country, especially in Ho Chi Minh City province.
The authorities in the city formerly known as Saigon have cancelled all cultural, sporting and entertainment activities. As of yesterday, religious services are limited to 20 people at a time.
The confinement worries farmers and flower growers in agricultural provinces like Bến Tre, Tiền Giang and Long An, who rely on increased sales at Tết.
Because of the restrictions, Uncle Hậu, a 80-year-old Buddhist, has had to cancel his sales of flowers and bonsai. “It takes a year to grow our flowers and we wait for the Tết to recoup the capital spent and reinvest it,” his son told AsiaNews.
Loan, a Buddhist from the Bình Chánh district, voiced the same concern. “Due to the restrictions in Ho Chi Minh City, I have not sold any apricot blossoms.”
Maria Nguyễn Uyên, a farmer from Chợ Lách district, also complained about the negative impact of the pandemic. “People are spending less money. With low prices, my family can't earn enough to live on.”
Maria also noted that this year her province (Bến Tre) was hit by severe floods. As a result, “We had problems with planting and harvesting. Our children had to give us a hand in the fields. I pray that this epidemic eds soon.”