ECONOMYNEXT – Vietnam deployed the military on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City on August 23, more than two months after local authorities failed to enforce a lockdown and Coronavirus infections and deaths climbed overwhelming health services.
Gun-toting soldiers were pictured on the streets of Saigon, a city where usually a traffic policeman is hard to come by.
Vietnam has seen a spike in Coronavirus with most of the cases coming from the South economic powerhouse of Ho Chi Minh City formerly Saigon where the naughty residents defied lockdown directives.
On August 23, the government announced 11,208 new Coronavirus cases of which 4,193 came from Ho Chi Minh City and 3,795 from nearby Bin Duong, compared to 11 in Hanoi where movement restrictions are followed better.
After two day 737 deaths were reported 15 cities and provinces on August 23, sending the total death toll to 8,277.
With 370,836 vaccine doses administered today, the total inoculated doses reached 15,274,648, with 1,791,248 people given two doses.
Saigonites born after late 1970s have not heard the word ‘curfew’ and have no idea it means, a longtime resident of the city said.
Matters were further complicated as the words used to describe various directives on restrictions are similar to social distancing rather than a lockdown.
Naughty residents told off policemen coming to check travel documents pointing out that they were breaking the two metre social distancing rule, widely shared videos showed.
Arguments with police were filmed ignoring requests not to do so, as residents insisted that police had no authority to control their smart phones.
Authorities last week put in place a night time curfew, assigned shopping days with tickets, but residents continue to argue with police and travel around, reports said.
On August 20, Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City was re-assigned as Deputy Head of the Central Economic Commission, Vietnam’s Tuoitre newspaper reported, without giving reasons.
Soldiers from the North and other areas were transported to Saigon, officially to help distribute food to the poor and help with harvests.
On social media there were comments of a ‘second liberation day’ from some residents, in reference to the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Media also broadcast a countdown style messages up to the midnight, in a psychological battle of wits to convince residents that this time it was different.
Groups of soldiers were pictured marching down alleys of Saigon in the morning of August 23, to ‘familiarize themselves to distribute food’ Tuoitre said.
But the busy streets of HCMC were quiet on Monday the report said. (Colombo/Aug23/2021)