Updated: July 20, 2021 12:18 PM GMT
Conventual Franciscans carry packages of food on motorbikes to deliver to people in lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
Catholics in coronavirus-stricken Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam have been encouraged to take tough social distancing measures and provide material and spiritual support for hapless victims.
Father Peter Kieu Cong Tung, head of the Office of Ho Chi Minh City Archbishop's House, said the more contagious Delta variant is rapidly spreading and causing a surge of cases in the city.
Father Tung reminded all Catholics to help contain community-transmitted infections by strictly staying indoors, keeping safe distances from one another, wearing face masks, avoiding gatherings at public places, washing hands with disinfectants, and making health declarations.
"The more strictly we implement social distancing measures, the sooner the spread ends," the priest said.
He asked local priests not to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to patients dying of Covid-19 at hospitals due to the high risk of contracting the contagion.
"The city government approves of priests celebrating last rites for those who die of the coronavirus at hospitals before they are cremated," he said. "This deed is small but brings great consolidation to the faithful."
This is an excellent opportunity for local religious to carry out their missions
He said the Archbishop's House plans to set up a team of priests who will take turns to perform this ministry.
"The local Church always walks with you in all circumstances of your life by not only praying for but being present at the passing of your relatives," Father Tung said on July 19.
He said local Catholics provide daily basic food for people severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak and are set to take part in giving health care to Covid-19 patients.
He added: "430 men and women religious volunteers are expected to look after patients at hospitals in the coming days. This is an excellent opportunity for local religious to carry out their missions."
Those volunteers plan to enter hospitals on July 22.
Father Tung urged people to pray for those religious, healthcare givers and volunteers to be peaceful and in good health to serve victims.
Providence of Portieux Sister Marie Therese Mai Thuong, a doctor who treats Covid-19 patients at a local hospital, said hospital staff daily work hard to save patients.
“When patients' lives are in mortal danger, we who directly cure them no longer fear difficulties, suffering or infection, but only make great efforts, along with our prayers, to make them breathe again, their hearts beat again,” Sister Mai Thuong said.
“Our determined efforts save the lives of many patients, sometimes only helping patients live a few more hours or days and must be completely dependent on medicines and machines, but we are still zealous in our service with the heart full of love.”
We will always keep in us the loving and sensitive heart of Mother Mary so that we are set to go and bring the Lord to those who need us
The nun said four other sisters from her community will join frontline healthcare givers to serve patients at hospitals.
“We will always keep in us the loving and sensitive heart of Mother Mary so that we are set to go and bring the Lord to those who need us,” the sister said.
On July 20, state-run VTC News reported that a migrant family — a mother and her three children — who have become jobless due to the pandemic decided to ride two bicycles from Dong Nai province to their home province of Nghe An, 1,383 kilometers away.
They traveled 282km for 11 days and when they arrived in Ninh Thuan province on July 19, some people made donations and bought train tickets for them. They will get on the train on July 21 to travel to their home.
Ho Chi Minh City, the epicenter of the ongoing fourth coronavirus wave which was detected in late April, has recorded 35,984 confirmed cases. The new outbreak has infected 56,479 people and spread to 58 out of 63 cities and provinces.