In Vietnam, Christmas isn’t an official public holiday and sometimes Christmas Eve is more important than Christmas day. However, there are still many Christmas trees and light displays in the major cities and carols, markets and meals are enjoyed! Due to COVID-19, however, there may be no concert outside the cathedral in Hanoi which is a much enjoyed celebration.
As at 13th December, Vietnam has had 1,397 confirmed cases, 1,241 recoveries and 35 deaths. More than 1.3 million tests have been performed. Recently, there have been 4 cases of community transmission in Ho Chi Minh and a consequent increase in social distancing has followed here.
HAGAR’s programmes continue to operate as normal and staff continue to walk the long-term recovery journey with survivors as well as practically supporting those in need as a result of COVID-19. Hagar Vietnam has since begun COVID-19 interventions in two provinces – in the form of distributing personal protection kits and the establishment of hand washing stations in 8 schools.
The Hagar Vietnam team are very busy as the year end concludes. They are travelling a lot to try and complete the training of other organisations, in addition to providing direct support to survivors.
Survivor in Focus
Mai is one of the first clients whom HAGAR received when we first started working in Vietnam. Mai has been suffering from the trauma caused by domestic violence. Mai, with HAGAR’s partnership, gradually escaped the ghost of her painful past to become more independent and self-sufficient in her life.
Thanks to HAGAR, Mai had the opportunity to receive vocational training and is currently working at a restaurant. Although the work is hard and her income is low, Mai works very hard to earn enough money to raise her high-school son and manage their living costs. With every day that has passed, she has to live in panic and worry about whether she and her son would have food to eat tomorrow.
Although the case has been closed for nearly two years, HAGAR’s mission of “The Whole Journey” remains steadfast and the case manager has been following up on Mai’s situation during the pandemic.
Knowing the difficulty she was facing, HAGAR quickly subsidised nutrition to ensure that she was in good physical and mental health. Particularly, understanding the stress and fears of being unemployed, the case manager provides Mai with information about government support packages and guides her on how to prepare and submit the administrative documents to receive this support.
Thanks to the care and guidance of HAGAR, Mai was relieved and less tense about the economic burden when she finished the registration for the government support package.
17 September Update
As of 17 September 2020, Vietnam has recorded 1,066 COVID-19 cases and 35 fatalities. 940 people have since recovered from the infection and a million tests have been performed on suspected cases.
Hải Dương city was isolated by the Government of Vietnam for 15 days after four residents were tested positive; none of whom had travel history to Da Nang. On the same day, the Ministry of Health announced that Ho Chi Minh City had one new case of COVID-19 – a Chinese man who crossed the northern border illegally into Vietnam. Since May, 152 confirmed COVID-19 cases were due to illegal entry into the City; Chinese people accounted for 72%, Cambodians 11%, and the rest were Vietnamese and Korean. This raises concerns about an outbreak from people who entered illegally into the city area. On 30 August, Vietnam recorded its first day without new cases since the beginning of the second wave of infection.
Previously identified as the most affected city with 394 confirmed cases and 31 deaths, social distancing restrictions in Da Nang have started to ease after the central government considered that the COVID-19 outbreak has been brought under control. All passenger transportation and business enterprises have resumed operations. 180 bars and discos in Ho Chi Minh City have also become active again after more than a month of inactivity to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
In the wake of the pandemic, Hagar Vietnam continues to provide emergency assistance and additional counselling support to existing and former clients as needs are identified. A number of key meetings for Nghe An and Yen Bai partners in Hanoi, had to be rescheduled.
In Hanoi, the request for mandatory mask wearing is not being implemented by all citizens. Journalist interviews identified that many citizens feel the Government has controlled the pandemic as much as possible to date, have strong response mechanisms established and they do not feel that they are in danger.
5 August Update
On July 22nd, after 99 days of no new COVID cases being recorded, a new spike of infections commenced in Vietnam. This new spike occured in Da Nang city, where at least 80,000 people were holidaying when the first case in the new wave was announced. Since then, the Government has implemented strict social distancing regulations in this province:
- anybody who was in Da Nang and who has since returned home has been asked to register with the Ministry of Health and provide a full list of places they visited in Da Nang to assist with contact tracing
- anybody who lives in Da Nang or who has recently returned from there must wear a mask
- all flights in and out of Da Nang have been cancelled and all public transport services have stopped
- non-essential services in Da Nang, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh and other selected provinces have been asked to close
- streets in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, where people who have tested positive have lived or worked, are being quarantined
Most of HAGAR Vietnam’s clients live in the north of Vietnam in less affected communities. However, this spike in infection is concerning for them and the country as a whole. HAGAR continues to provide counselling and emergency assistance as required to those clients who are impacted.
Some HAGAR staff have had to practice social distancing after either being in Da Nang or being in contact with someone who has. The team had received funding from UNTF to run a community event in Nghe An province which reinforced COVID preventative measures and arrange sanitation stations at selected schools as well.
Due to the new spike however, several other events that the HAGAR team had scheduled have had to be postponed including a life-skills training session with clients and capacity development activities for our partners in Nghe An and Yen Bai regions. These delays have an ongoing impact on staff stress levels due to the work plan for August to December being very busy. The Senior Leadership team are closely tracking staff well-being.
As of 5th August, Vietnam has recorded 652 confirmed cases with 858 suspected cases waiting to be confirmed.
15 May Update
As of 14th May, there have been 288 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Vietnam. 252 patients have fully recovered and there have been no deaths. More than 261,000 tests have been performed.
The Government has relaxed social-distancing rules and has allowed the resumption of non-essential services including bars as long as they maintain preventative measures. Since our last update, schools have reopened – every child in Vietnam is now back at school for the first time since 1st February, as have several tourist destinations. Public bus transport has now resumed as normal and domestic flights can carry 100% passengers instead of 80%. Masks continue to be recommended, but are no longer mandatory and are not widely worn now.
As a result, HAGAR staff have been able to start travelling to provinces to meet with clients and conduct field assessments again. While HAGAR staff were able to return to the office several weeks ago, they were unable to travel due to the restrictions and still had to conduct meetings and sessions with clients over the phone. However, 100% of Hagar Vietnam’s operations are now running again and a big area of focus going forward, will be helping existing and former clients find new economic opportunities.
28 April Update
As at Tuesday, the 28th of April, there were 270 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Vietnam. 222 of these cases have recovered and so far there have been no deaths. More than 213,000 tests have been conducted.
Hanoi continues to be the most impacted city and some provinces in Vietnam have continued their mandate that no visitors from Hanoi are allowed to enter their province. However, Nghe An and Yen Bai provinces (where HAGAR delivers economic empowerment, prevention and capacity building projects) have informed Hagar Vietnam that staff can begin to visit as of next week, pending no new infections are confirmed.
It is still mandatory to wear a mask whenever one goes outside but some of the social distancing rules have also been relaxed in Vietnam this week. Some restaurants and businesses have opened and Hagar Vietnam staff have returned to working from the HAGAR office. Bars, massage parlours, sidewalk cafes and religious gathering remain forbidden but there is talk that high schools may be able to open soon.
HAGAR clients continue to require additional support at this time, including counselling, emergency assistance, and/or career planning for after COVID-19.
8 April Update
As at Wednesday, 8 April, there were 251 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Vietnam. 115 of these cases were in Hanoi and some provinces in Vietnam have mandated that no visitors from Hanoi are allowed to enter their province. Schools remain closed and police vehicles patrol tourist areas in particular, requesting everyone to go inside when they are seen walking on the road. It is mandatory to wear a mask whenever one goes out.
Hagar clients are experiencing increased economic hardship as a result of COVID-19. In cases of great need, and while being mindful of not wanting to create dependency, Hagar Vietnam is providing emergency food support to families. Hagar client, Tai and his grandmother have been recipients of this support recently.
Tai has autism (which means he needs special and constant care) and his grandmother is his sole family support. She had cleaning jobs at both the local coffee shop and school, but both of these closed as a result of COVID-19. Without a job and income, Tai’s grandmother had no way to afford their living costs.
Understanding the financial hardships and the importance of Tai’s care, Hagar quickly supported them with living expenses during this challenging time. Hagar’s Case Manager also regularly called to keep in touch with them and provides advice regarding how to prevent COVID-19.
“I don’t know what else to say other than thanks to Hagar. Sincerely thanks to Ms. Ngoc – the case manager who always helps and cares for us like her family members.”
Your support enables us to continue our vital work with survivors like Tai and his grandmother. Thank you.
Hagar Vietnam is also working to continue and deepen partnerships with other agencies at this time. For example, to respond to the needs of Ho Chi Minh based survivors who require face-to-face support, Hagar Vietnam has identified a psychologist working with a partner agency, that they will contract to provide counselling and health services support. To enable them to fully represent Hagar, our Case Manager Team Leader will provide intensive Trauma Informed Care case management training to this psychologist and close supervision and management during the counselling period.
Hagar pursues the highest degree of care and protection for each of its clients. To protect the identity of our clients, names have been changed and images do not necessarily represent the individual profiled.