Updated: July 16, 2021 08:54 AM GMT
Caritas workers serve free food to people in need at Thu Duc Church in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
Bishops in Vietnam have developed detailed plans to distribute emergency aid to tens of thousands of people seriously affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the country's largest commercial hub.
On July 14, Father Joseph Dao Nguyen Vu, head of the Office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, said Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, the conference president, had called on all people in the country and abroad to make generous donations to help people in Ho Chi Minh City who are left in poor condition by the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19.
Father Vu said the public have heeded Archbishop Linh's call and many have sent fruit, vegetables, rice and other agricultural produce to help those in need.
The Jesuit priest, who was assigned to coordinate the emergency aid program, said his office has received over 4 billion dong (US$174,000) from benefactors since Archbishop Linh's call was posted on the bishops' site on July 12.
"We gratefully receive donations from all people regardless of their background," he said, adding that venues for receiving contributions include the headquarters of the bishops, Caritas Vietnam and the Caritas branch in Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese.
Volunteers will hand out fresh food within 24 hours to quarantined places and kitchens serving meals to staff at isolated and quarantined places. Rice, instant noodles, cooking oil and canned food will be dispensed within 48 hours to quarantined places, shelters for workers and street vendors, and homes for disabled people, orphans and elderly people.
People are in a tight spot and long for financial support from the government
The priest said the Church will support unemployed people who suffer heart problems, cancer and post-surgery by paying the costs of one-week prescription medications of each patient. They are also given 75,000 dong ($3.30) per day each to buy food for 10 days.
The church-run program also distributes food, finance and rent payments to people aged over 70 with no relatives, migrant workers, pregnant women, mothers with babies under 18 months, teachers at private nursery schools, homeless people and vendors rendered jobless by the pandemic. Infants below 18 months will also get one-week costs of their milk.
People need to have their conditions confirmed by local authorities or parish priests before they get relief.
Kitchens offering free meals to those who are affected by the outbreak will be given a maximum 7 million dong per day for three days a week each. Each portion costs 25,000 dong.
Father Vu said financial support will be dispensed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays starting from July 15 until donations run out or the city’s social distancing measures end.
He said bishops and Caritas Vietnam will supervise the aid program and will have financial accounts audited at the end of the year.
On July 14, Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs Minister Dao Ngoc Dung said 13 million workers had lost their jobs, had work temporarily suspended or had their working hours cut due to the latest stubborn outbreak, while over 70,000 businesses had suspended operations or closed.
Dung said the government decided to offer a support package of 26 trillion dong to employees and employers badly affected by the pandemic.
“People are in a tight spot and long for financial support from the government,” he said, ordering local authorities to disburse the package soon.
After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam has faced a more stubborn outbreak
Le Minh Tan, director of the city’s Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs Department, said the city is offering 886 billion dong to people in quarantine centers, Covid-19 prevention forces, unemployed workers and teachers.
As of July 15, 212,000 workers including vendors, motorbike taxi drivers and hairdressers have been granted 1.5-1.8 million dong, according to local media.
After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam has faced a more stubborn outbreak that has infected 37,237 people since late April.
The country has confirmed 40,795 infections including 207 deaths since the pandemic broke out early 2020.