It doesn’t take more than $10 for a person to be smuggled illegally across the borders of Vietnam. According to the past month’s records, chains and organizations of smugglers have succeeded in transporting over 100 people into Vietnam through China’s, Laos’, and Thailand’s borders. These people illegally crossing our borders are people who have either unsuccessfully acquired a rescue flight ticket, or, more commonly, are unwilling to spend 14 days in the governmental quarantine.
On July 23rd, Vietnam reported its first case of COVID-19 after 105 days of zero positive cases. A pizza delivery man was said to have travelled across one of Vietnam’s most densely populated areas, and tested positive for the coronavirus after displaying coughing and fever symptoms. Within the next 3-4 days, the tallied number of cases rose to an alarming 79, spanning across 10 major cities, its growth rate showing no indication of slowing down. Schools, bars, along with most non-essential businesses have once again been shut down indefinitely; and the public has been preparing for another possible social distancing period.
But in the midst of panic, and as the floods of the second COVID-19 wave hit the crowded cities and trickle into distant rural areas of Vietnam, I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud to be part of this beautiful country. Within 12 hours of the first official positive case, before the government even had a chance to reissue social-distancing guidelines, the Vietnamese people were already prepared to fight. In what used to be the most crowded and metropolitan streets of Hanoi, only a handful of people remain— idle and in need of a fresh breath of air— and even then, everyone is fully masked and social distancing.
We, as a country, have done an incredible job in the fight against the first wave of COVID-19; and we are trying to pull off a repeat performance as this second (and hopefully, final) wave starts once again. But from a logical standpoint, we all understand our previous efforts aren’t going to cut it this time. Without being able to trace contacts, outline possible infected areas, and remove suspected infected individuals from the public, it’s almost impossible to contain the virus. The only thing we can do right now is to distribute as many tests as possible in the most timely manner, in the hope that we can identify, slow down, and cut off the spread of COVID-19.
Illegal entries into Vietnam have undone and utterly wrecked the careful vigilance that the entire country has been exercising. Amidst the masses of people who have sacrificed so much for the safety and health of the country, there are still those who lurk around, doing the exact opposite. It’s disgusting and shameful to realize that Vietnamese people are killing Vietnamese people— that the spread of COVID-19 isn’t coming from any kind of foreigners or unidentified sources, but rotten apples in a barrel full of good, noble, and courageous ones.
Written by: Cam Nguyen