Updated: July 13, 2021 09:20 AM GMT
Father Vincent Nguyen Minh Huan offers emergency aid and blesses a quarantined household in Ho Chi Minh City on July 8. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)
The head of Vietnam’s bishops has formally called on people to extend emergency aid to people seriously affected by a new coronavirus outbreak in the country’s largest commercial hub.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam, said Ho Chi Minh City has become the country’s biggest epicenter after reporting more than 1,000 infections per day in recent days.
All people in the southern commercial city have been quarantined for 15 days starting July 9 to contain the fourth wave of the contagion which suddenly broke out in the Southeast Asian country on April 27.
Archbishop Linh warned that the strict measures against the outbreak could pose grave risks to local residents, especially poor people.
“Never, even during the wars, has the city gone through days of pressing, tough challenges like today,” the septuagenarian prelate noted, adding that Ho Chi Minh City is dogged by a vast array of more and more appalling problems — community infections, overcrowded hospitals, exhausted health workers, stressed and tired prevention teams, economic stagnation, limited transport services and escalating costs of goods.
The archbishop of Hue said the city, formerly called Saigon and dubbed the "Pearl of the Far East,” is in deep water, suffering a lack of personnel, food, funds, medicines and even a future. What will tens of thousands of old people and children selling lottery tickets and food on streets, taxi drivers, and other daily earners put on the table in the coming days? Where do workers make money when factories will cut staff or close?
No one knows how long the current health crisis will last and how it will go
Archbishop Linh said people should be grateful to local residents who made generous donations to natural disaster victims in central provinces last year and other people in need across the country.
He urged Vietnamese people in the country and abroad to do something useful for the lovely city that was the center of love before the outbreak. He quoted some Vietnamese sayings, including “Lá lành đùm lá rách” (Sound leaves protect torn ones).
Archbishop Linh called on local Catholics and charity groups to “immediately do what we can to save our brothers and sisters who are fighting for survival in the Covid-19 pandemic in the city.” They should do charity work according to God’s word: Freely you received, freely give.
He said dioceses, communities and Caritas units should set up hotlines and addresses to gather voluntary donations — agricultural products, medical equipment and finance.
The headquarters of the Vietnam bishops based in the city will receive and distribute humanitarian aid to local people.
“No one knows how long the current health crisis will last and how it will go. But for Christians, this is a sign of a time that requires us to be wide awake to recognize God's will. The pandemic is devastating, but we, along with other Vietnamese people in the country as well as overseas, will build a new city and a new highway system with loving materials,” the archbishop said in an open message published on July 12.
In conclusion, he asked Catholics to pray to and offer their nation and the rest of the world to the loving hands of St. Joseph. They should pray for Pope Francis, who has been in hospital for an operation, to be better soon.
On July 8, Father Vincent Nguyen Minh Huan, pastor of Hoang Mai Parish, and some Caritas workers visited and offered rice and instant noodles to 17 quarantined households on a street.
We always pray for you to overcome hard days and return to normal life soon
“I come here to show my pastoral care to all people regardless of their background who are affected by the outbreak,” Father Huan in full protective gear told them. “We always pray for you to overcome hard days and return to normal life soon.”
He gave each household 10 kilograms of rice and one package of instant noodles and blessed them.
The priest also called on them to obey health measures and cooperate with other people to contain the growing outbreak.
Ho Chi Minh City has reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases — 16,027 — since the fourth wave of the contagion broke out on April 27. The more stubborn outbreak has infected 30,085 people in 58 out of 63 cities and provinces.
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