📷 On the morning of 1 June 2021, heavy traffic jams at checkpoints in Go Vap district forced the authorities to remove barriers to let people through. In Go Vap, social distancing was not strictly implemented as expected.

COVID-19 in Southeast Asia: Ho Chi Minh City Devastated as Huge Wave of Coronavirus Hits

A Photo Essay by Le Dinh Tuyen and Hoang Giam

Ho Chi Minh City Devastated as Huge Wave of Coronavirus Hits

A photo-essay from Vietnam's largest financial hub.

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest economic and financial center with 9 million people accounting for nearly 10% of Vietnam's population. At the end of April 2021, when the city was about to celebrate the 46th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, new cases emerged. The outbreak which is the fourth since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, was contained relatively successful but then it broke out rapidly. Ho Chi Minh City is currently Vietnam's epicentre, accounting for 64% of the country's total infections.

There are continuous surges of new infections and the fatality rate is dominated by the Delta variant of the coronavirus. The new, highly transmissible strain of the virus first detected in India, has made this the longest and the most persistent outbreak the country ever seen.

Cố Lên Việt Nam Ơi! Đánh Bay COVID-19! Fighting Vietnam! Fight COVID-19!

📷 Under the city’s new restrictions, all businesses were closed. Restaurants and food stalls only provide take away service; no dine-in.
📷 The once-crowded streets of Ho Chi Minh City now are empty.
📷 On 31 May 2021, Ho Chi Minh City officially implemented social distancing under Government’s Order No. 15 to fight COVID-19 pandemic. People are not allowed to go out and many other restrictions are in place. The war against COVID-19 has begun.
📷 Fear prevails. People rarely go out if it is not really necessary.
📷 The city carried out massive operations of spraying disinfectants throughout its 19 urban and 5 suburban districts, military officers used more than two tonnes of Chloramine-B to spray streets, squares and other public places.
📷 Along with large-scale disinfectant spraying, Ho Chi Minh City has stepped up on screening, tracing and sampling in the community, focusing on residential areas where suspected cases of COVID-19 have been recorded.
📷 The iconic Ben Thanh Market / Chợ Bến Thành is closed for the first time ever.
📷 Tens of thousands of swab test samples are collected per day and sent to Ho Chi Minh City's COVID-19 testing centers. This is a "huge" number of samples taken in a day, compared to previous outbreaks in the city in 2020.
📷 Within one month after the superspreader chain related to a missionary church based in Go Vap district, the pandemic lay like an "oil slick" over the city. During the course of one month, more than 600 residential areas with COVID-19 cases were locked-down.
📷 Around the end of June until early July 2021, the situation in Ho Chi Minh City has become more complicated. The city recorded thousands of new COVID-19 cases each day, most of these cases are recorded in quarantined facilities and locked-down neighbourhoods.
📷 The Vietnamese government took every efforts to make COVID-19 vaccines available for the population. Millions of doses of imported vaccines have been prioritized. Seen in the picture, the (still empty) warehouse of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.
📷 Thousands of doctors, medical staff in Ho Chi Minh City and from across the country were mobilized, so that the city could carry out mass vaccinations and was able to conduct prevention and control measures.
📷 Since the number of available vaccine vials are too small compared to what are needed, the initial vaccination campaigns is reserved for those in priority groups, not yet for the whole population.
📷 "Vaccination is the city's vital solution to stop the epidemic and protect people's health," said the city’s leaders.
📷 While queueing to get their jabs, people are seen waving from the window of the Tropical Disease Hospital of HCMC / Bệnh viện Bệnh Nhiệt đới (BVBNĐ).
📷 The vaccination in Ho Chi Minh City took place over many days, peaking in July 2021 with a series of vaccination points throughout the city.
📷 The city continues to carry out massive works of tracing, testing and epidemiological investigation through days and nights.
📷 On July 18, 2021, Ho Chi Minh City recorded 4,692 new cases of COVID-19, a new record of infections. Severe cases and fatality rates continued to increase.
📷 Emergency Service 115 and many other medical units of the city are in charge of receiving and transferring infected people to the treatment facilities and field hospitals. These heavy-laden work takes place day and night, with sirens of the ambulances roaring in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.
📷 By mid-July, the tracing continued, the number has increased with numerous community cases, the sources of infection were not controlled. Medical staff are the hardest working team, performing tasks often 24/7.
📷 Never ever has the fight against COVID-19 in Ho Chi Minh City been as tense and complicated as during this outbreak. The virus reaches the streets and alleys, from the most luxurious apartments to remote slums. Anyone can be “F0” can be be put in quarantine facilities at any time.
📷 Go Vap district is the site where the first COVID-19 infections were recorded the current huge wave started in April 2021. Meanwhile, Vietnamese families are staying optimistic and strong. Fight, Vietnam! This too shall pass!

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