I expected to be enlightened by a thoughtful article about the impact of the latest wave of COVID-19 on Danang in the August 2021 issue of Mekong Review (Asian Literature). Instead, it was another entitled expat complaining about the inconveniences of a lockdown designed to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
Here are two key paragraphs:
Something new and different is happening, too. Over the past few months, scores of Vietnamese friends and even strangers have ranted to me at length about internal politics. Even a year ago, to speak like this to a foreigner was exceedingly rare. Now neighbours complain loudly for hours about the lack of vaccines and the state news being nothing but propaganda. Things have changed in a very short time. People, it seems, are fed up.
Tonight, a Son Tra-style lockdown is scheduled to take hold in every part of Da Nang. More than 1 million people will be locked in their homes for a week. This weekend, families have crowded outside supermarkets three hours before doors open. With mass vaccinations unlikely anytime soon in Da Nang and social capital running low, what happens next is anyone’s guess.
First, isn’t complaining one of the things people do during a pandemic? (People complained in the pre-COVID era and are likely to continue doing so after the coronavirus has been eradicated.) Of course people are fed up. It’s not a picnic for anyone, especially those who are most are risk of becoming infected. Most people knew that containment, while a raging success in Viet Nam, was not going to last forever. The Delta variant, which arrived in full force in April 2021 in southern Viet Nam, made damn sure of that. The only way out of this quagmire is a mass vaccination program, which is underway. Patience is not only a virtue, it’s also a necessity.
Secondly, it’s rare that I find myself defending a government but, in the spirit of giving credit where credit’s due, as I did last year when an armchair journalist from the UK criticized Viet Nam’s success (!), transparency was one of the highlights of the nationwide effort to contain COVID-19 that begin in January 2020. Compare that, and the results, with what happened in Ben’s home country, the USA. Like night and day, sickness and health, death and survival.
Finally, what is this supposed to mean? …What happens next is anyone’s guess. Is there going to be a popular uprising led by Ben and other angry, inconvenienced expats in Danang? Thôi nào!
On a side note, I thought the reference to “Vietnam’s infamous high school and college entrance exams” was a cheap shot.
Chin up and suck it up, Ben. You’re a white, male teacher, not a garbage-picker who’s living hand to mouth. This, too, shall pass. There’s always Arizona (population: 7.2 million). It currently ranks 12th in COVID cases in the US with nearly a million total cases, 61,409 active cases, and 18,504 deaths to date. From the frying pan into the fire?
Postscript: Doesn’t MR have editors?
Shalom (שלום), MAA