| 4 February 2023, Saturday |

Fears of a viral lockdown have prompted panic shopping in Vietnam’s largest metropolis

On Wednesday, panic purchasing erupted in Vietnam’s economic capital, Ho Chi Minh Major, the core of the coronavirus outbreak, as media reported rioting at a city jail where dozens of convicts had been sick.

A day after dozens of flights were canceled to control the spread, the Health Ministry said that outgoing tourists from the city of 9 million people would be subjected to a week of quarantine and testing at their destinations.

Witnesses said store shelves have been emptied since late Tuesday in preparation for tougher restrictions, as the country reported over 1,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time.

“They have bought everything, and now I can’t buy any food for my kids, not even eggs,” said a witness, who asked to be referred to by one name, Huong.

Resident Truong Thi Ngoc said wet markets had closed and finding food was difficult.

“Many of the shelves are completely empty, and I’m very worried about the situation,” Ngoc said.

Vietnam has quickly contained most coronavirus outbreaks but its current one has lasted more than two months. Ho Chi Minh City had recorded 617 of the 677 new cases reported nationwide by early afternoon Wednesday.

Traders claimed Tuesday’s 4 percent drop in Vietnam’s benchmark index was due to rumors about a stringent shutdown. On Wednesday, the index gained 2.5 percent.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has designated two deputies to deal with the outbreak in Ho Chi Minh City, including the head of the coronavirus task group, Vu Duc Dam.

On Tuesday, Chinh stated that human lives must come first, and that there may be some economic disruption as a result.

Screams and gunshots were heard in the city’s Chi Hoa Prison on Tuesday night, according to VnExpress and state-run VTV. According to reports, the jail was testing after 81 inmates and wardens were sick.

  • Reuters