Saigon residents are embracing long-term lives with Covid-19
Since local authorities announced the progressive reopening of Saigon on 30th September, we’re seeing the city steadily marching its way out of the Covid-19 crisis.
Not only have F&B establishments and hairstyling services been given the green light to resume activities, but tourist attractions have also opened doors to vaccinated visitors. Streets and lanes are no longer barricaded. Instead, people are hitting the streets again, traveling to their offices and public venues for recreation.
Here are seven ways that tell us how Saigon residents are moving towards long-term lives with Covid-19.
1. Vaccination proofs and Zalo apps are becoming indispensable
The QR code scanning function on the Zalo app (circled in red).
If there’s one thing that most Saigon residents can’t do without these days, it’s a smartphone.
As you already know by now, most public venues such as grocery stores and supermarkets require people to scan their QR codes to make health reports. Many mobile apps can scan QR codes, but Zalo is reportedly the most effective app that allows you to scan QR codes at nearly all venues and make health reports.
For example, if you check in to Bách Hóa Xanh supermarket to purchase groceries or visit the Saigon Book Street, you’ll find that some government-approved QR code scanners such as Sổ Sức Khỏe Điện Tử often show error messages saying that the codes you scan are invalid. However, if you use the Zalo app to scan the codes, it usually works and a link will appear to send you to the health report. As someone who has tried scanning QR codes at multiple venues in the city, my advice is to stick with the Zalo app to scan QR codes and make health reports.
While most grocery stores and convenience marts don’t require vaccination statuses for walk-in visitors, many tourist attractions and shopping malls now do.
My green vaccination card (pixelated for safety purposes)
Before checking in one of these venues, make sure that you check their requirements on the vaccination statues of visitors. Some allow those with yellow cards, which can be understood as those who have gotten one dose of the vaccine. However, some require visitors to display their green cards, also known as proof of full vaccination.
For example, Diamond Plaza security guards make sure that visitors show their green cards at the entrance and don’t require them to make health reports on the scene.
2. Many tourist attractions and shopping malls have reopened
Ho Chi Minh City Book Street
Here’s the good news.
If you are fully vaccinated and keen to blow off the cobwebs, don’t be afraid to hit the streets again. Major tourist attractions such as Ho Chi Minh City Book Street, the Central Post Office, Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street, and Bến Thành Market have reopened.
The Central Post Office
Parks have also opened doors to those who want to take a leisurely stroll or to simply sit on the benches and enjoy a takeaway cup of coffee.
Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral
3. Barricades and officers no longer fill the streets
Nguyễn Huệ Street
Less than two weeks ago, all streets across the city were still filled with barricades as well as Covid-19 officers enforcing safety protocols. However, they all seemed to have disappeared on the first weekend since reopening on 30th September.
As my friend and I rode our scooter around the main streets of District 1 all the way to District 10 and District 5 two days ago, we didn’t chance upon any Covid-19 officers or barricaded streets.
A central road leading to Bitexco Tower
Even though local authorities warned that Covid-19 officers would conduct random checks on commuters’ vaccination statuses, we didn’t encounter that experience on our first weekend outing in four months. The only officers we spotted on the streets were traffic policemen, and this has always been the norm.
With that having said, do get fully vaccinated if you can before you go out and your vaccination cards ready on your phone just in case you get pulled over by a Covid-19 officer.
4. Domestic flights have restarted from 10th October
Image credit: Vietnam Airlines
On 10th October, domestic flights between major cities such as Saigon, Hanoi, Hai Phong, and Danang resumed.
Needless to say, all seats were quickly sold out after domestic airlines such as Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet started announcing sales of flight tickets on 8th October.
To curb the risk of spreading Covid-19, all airlines require travelers to get fully vaccinated or prove that they have recovered from Covid-19 infections.
Image credit: Vietnam Airlines
Nonetheless, any traveller departing from Saigon is to be quarantined for seven days at maximum after landing, according to Tuổi Trẻ. Therefore, only leave Saigon if it’s really necessary and keep yourself posted on updates from the government concerning testing and quarantine requirements from people travelling to and from Saigon.
5. Pace of vaccinations speed up
Image adapted from: HCDC
Living with Covid-19 is not possible without vaccinations, and local authorities are ramping up innoculations across the city.
According to the Ministry of Health, over 90% Saigon residents above age 18 have been inoculated with the first vaccine doses. As of today, nearly 70% of the local population have been vaccinated with their second doses, Tuổi Trẻ reported.
6. Covid-19-related death tolls are declining
Image credit: Ministry of Health
Many of us have stopped counting the number of infections as well as death tolls ever since the city announced its gradual reopening. However, it’s still helpful to keep ourselves updated with statistical evidence to rest assured that Saigon is on track to getting back on its feet.
Starting from 27th April, Saigon has recorded 407,446 infections and 15,603 deaths caused by Covid-19 complications, Tiền Phong reported. Five months into intense treatment of confirmed cases and vaccinations, the number of Covid-19-related deaths have dwindled.
Between 7th September and 6th October, the number of Covid-19-related deaths has gone from 300-400 per day to roughly 100, according to Tuổi Trẻ.
7. Government withdraws external medical aid from Saigon
Image credit: Lao Động
According to Tuổi Trẻ, over 6,500 medical workers from all parts of Vietnam had been dispatched to the city since late April. Priests, monks, and nuns from religious establishments all over the country also joined the frontline to assist with the treatment and recovery of Covid-19 patients.
Numerous makeshift Covid-19 facilities were built overnight, while at least five thousand cases were reported daily. As of today, 21,398 Covid-19 patients have survived this deadly medical crisis, thanks to heroic medical workers whose names, ages, and hometowns they might not even know.
Medical workers taking photos at the Central Post Office before withdrawing from Saigon
With the local Covid-19 situation in Saigon being under control, the government has deemed it fit to withdraw external medical aid from the city. The deadline to withdraw all medical workers who are based in other provinces is 15th October.
While it’s sad to say goodbye, this is a clear telltale sign that the Covid-19 situation in the city is really improving.
Things are looking up for those in Saigon
Those who have remained in Saigon since April might never be able to get over what happened during the past five months. From the extreme difficulties of sourcing necessities to the hourly anxieties of waiting to get vaccinated, many of us have seen and survived it all.
Fortunately, things are gradually looking up as more businesses have reopened, more jobs have been offered, and vaccination rates are on the rise.
We don’t know when things will resume to pre-Covid-19 normalcy, but we can be rest assured that we’re making considerable progress. In the meantime, let’s exercise caution when being in the public and cut down on at-risk activities if possible.
Also check out:
- Saigon to reopen at 6PM on 30th September 2021
- ‘No water & toilet breaks’: Saigon doctor describes life inside Covid-19 ward
- Vietnam’s road to normalcy starts with vaccine passports
- Covid-19 deaths rise in Saigon, volunteer undertakers go into overdrive
- Covid-19 commentary: a gradual transition is the way out for Vietnam
- Moments of war and want in Saigon right before citywide freeze
Cover image adapted from: The Smart Local Vietnam and Vietnam Airlines