Vietnamese and Coronavirus in Russia

Russia are doing their utmost to cope with the coronavirus epidemic but they’re reaching their limits. More and more medical workers are now testing positive themselves

Moscow officials recently announced the official death toll from Covid-19 in the city dobled from April.

Moscow health authorities say the number of deaths as of May 28 was 1,561, rather than 639 as originally announced.

Some reporters based in Moscow said the official figures are too low compared to reality, but they are accused of falsifying and distorting the facts.

Nationwide, Russia has the third highest number of Covid-19 infections in the world, with over 400,000 positive cases and 4,693 deaths as of May 31.

BBC News Vietnamese asks Mrs. Lan Huong, a person who has lived in Moscow since the late 1980s, about the pandemic situation in the Vietnamese community of around 100,000 people living in Russia.

Ms. Lan Huong: Most Vietnamese people live on trading in markets, especially in Moscow.

Vietnamese people trade at wholesale markets such as Liu market (official name is Moskow market) and Chim market (official name is Sadovod market), meaning that there are many people around, close contact cannot be avoided.

Vietnamese people also have the habit of living in dormitories together.

Because of these two things, when the disease broke out in Russia and Moscow became the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnamese people were also heavily infected, it can be said that the rate of infection among Vietnamese is much higher compared to the Russian population’s one.

In Russia, there is no statistics on how many foreigners in Russia are infected, so no one has exactly how many Vietnamese people are infected, but according to the number received by support groups, it is likely more than 500 people infected and more than 20 died from the virus.

The youngest was born in 1982, but mostly between 50 and 64 years old. That is not to be too old and weak like other countries.

The number of people infected with coronavirus in Russia has now reached the third rank only after the US and Brazil

BBC News English: Where are the cases often caused by infections? Has anyone returned to Vietnam to “escape the pandemic” or not? What is the treatment in Russia?

Ms. Lan Huong: Most of the infected Vietnamese families have close and diverse contact with the Vietnamese community: selling goods at markets, making taxis for Vietnamese at the markets, providing food delivery services for Vietnamese, medical workers for the Vietnamese community, people doing paperwork, or simply live in apartment blocks where many Vietnamese live.

Before the outbreak occured in Russia, in late March, Vietnamese did not run back to Vietnam to avoid outbreaks, but instead ran from Vietnam to Russia, because everyone thought that the possibility of an outbreak in Vietnam was higher than in Russia.

After the outbreak began to spread in Russia, people could not fly back to Vietnam.

On May 12, Vietnam Airlines Airline had the first flight to bring Vietnamese from Russia to Vietnam to avoid outbreaks.

Although it is called a humanitarian flight, people still have to buy tickets.

The initial ticket price is $1,300, for priority cases: children, pregnant women, the elderly and everyone will have to sit spaced on the plane, so only estimate to receive 200 passengers come on.

But then the number of passengers was up to 345 people, which at first glance was mostly young people, not old people and children.

There are some who say the total cost for their flight is nearly $5,000, not just $1,300 for a ticket.

Although there are many frustrations around this evacuation flight, many people have to say that those who return on that flight are very happy and happy to be able to escape the pandemic area and back to family, to be back to medical treatment in Vietnam, because on this flight more than 20 people were infected with the virus.

And also thanks to many people who have tried to organize the flight, to fly on this dangerous flight, to make this flight safe.

Workers at a Vietnamese sewing factory in Russia worked day and night to make protective suits for everyone on this flight for free.

Those who are ill in Russia receive free treatment like the Russians.

So, although it is located in the middle of the pandemic center, the situation of Vietnamese people in Moskow is not so stressful and difficult as other epicenters.

BBC News English: Russian and European newspapers report on the daily increase in the Russian Federation and the number of doctor deaths in Covid-19 hospital, the psychology of Vietnamese people in Russia regarding the news?

Ms. Lan Huong: At the beginning, when the new outbreak broke out in late March and early April, every day I heard the number of cases of mourning, heard the news that Vietnamese people here and there were infected, and every day, we heard someone. After that, the Vietnamese community is quite tense. All day people just talk about disease.

But people got used to the situation, and especially the number of deaths in Russia did not skyrocket, the seriously infected people had enough room for hospitalization and medical care, and the ill Vietnamese were admitted to hospital and treated normally, so gradually the Vietnamese community was assured, no longer worried.

Patient support groups and people in difficult circumstances are opened to help the people, even help the Russians, so the Vietnamese community in Russia for the first time feels like a relative national love, and feel more attached and love each other.

Vietnamese people are ‘not subsidized by the Russian government’ and face difficulties

BBC News Vietnamese: How are Vietnamese affected by Moscow’s order to socialize and insulate? How is this business, living, and studying? There was discrimination or not? Is it mistaken for a Chinese?

Ms. Lan Huong: Vietnamese people live mainly on markets and trade centers, so when the whole city has to close and implement social spacing, it can be said that up to 90% of Vietnamese people are lossing jobs and have no income.

The Vietnamese also do not receive any assistance from the Russian government, so those who do not have saving are in extremely difficult circumstances in the past.

Many people have no money to pay for rent, and many do not have food and medicine.

In the coming time, the number of people facing difficulties will certainly increase because even though the store is opened, the Russians have become much poorer, so the purchasing power in the coming time will be significantly reduced and it means the work of Vietnamese people will also be reduced and in difficulty.

BBC News Vietnamese: Russian and Vietnam routes still in operation?

Ms. Lan Huong: Currently between Russia and Vietnam there are no longer regular flights.

According to the plan, Russia will resume international flights from July 15, while Vietnam’s aviation may continue to stop until September or October.

Recently, it was reported that the Russian government forced the airline companies to sell only half of the tickets for passengers sitting far away on each other.

But soon after that, the airline companies object this regulation, saying it would make the airfare too expensive and no one can afford to fly anymore.

The government has not yet been ratified, but it is expected that by the time the flights resume, the government will abolish the rule, just as it has allowed the rail industry to sell tickets as usual, rather than halving the number of tickets like before.

At first, when the outbreak broke out in February, the Chinese were stigmatized, even taxi drivers forced to open passports to prove they were not new Chinese to board.

But now everyone can be infected, and Russians are infected more than Vietnamese or Chinese, so the discrimination against Asian people has gone.

Now everyone must be vigilant and careful to protect themselves, everyone must wear a mask and gloves to ensure safety for everyone around. (Translated)

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