Bermudian in Vietnam details strict lockdown
A Bermudian teacher in Vietnam said the country's fast lockdown and success in the fight against Covid-19 gave him hope that Bermuda would stage a quick recovery from the crisis as well.
Aiyetoro Hinds admitted he was alarmed when strict social-distancing measures were imposed in mid-March, but that the country had started to reopen and he no longer felt “stuck”.
Mr Hinds said 270 cases of the virus had been recorded in the country by Tuesday, but that no deaths had been linked to the coronavirus.
He added: “Vietnam's policy led to apartment buildings, streets and even entire towns being shut down and constantly monitored.
“No one was allowed in or out for over two to three weeks.
“Authorities carried out complete tracing of those who had tested positive, documenting and quarantining second, third and fourth levels of contact to the infected person.”
Mr Hinds, 24, from Sandys, said: “While some may view this approach as excessive, Vietnam's ability to contain the spread of the virus is remarkable.”
He added Vietnam was an example to other countries gripped by the coronavirus.
Mr Hinds said: “Collectively, we can prevent the spread of this disease and keep those most vulnerable to it safe. Only together can we keep Bermuda safe.”
He added: “As of April 25, shops have started to open slowly and more people are out on the streets.
“Normality is slowly beginning to re-emerge here while the worst has yet to come for many other nations.
“I urge everyone in Bermuda to follow Premier David Burt's orders to stay at home, however long it may take.”
Mr Hinds travelled to Vietnam to teach English as a second language and started an “intense” training course in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, in early February.
He said he first heard of Covid-19's rapid spread around the world while still on the course.
Mr Hinds added: “I received updates from family and friends asking when I would return home and whether things were also getting worse in Vietnam.
“Despite this, I remained calm and mostly unfazed as my opportunity to teach was nearing. I, like many others disregarded the rising threat of Covid-19, mostly because I didn't view it as a threat to myself or my family back in Bermuda.”
However, Mr Hinds said the Communist country announced a string of closure orders on March 16, as he was in the final week of training.
He added: “Authorities in certain provinces began the shutting down of all entertainment facilities, suspended railway routes and other methods of travelling. “Tourist sites, small businesses and entire streets began closing down.
“It was an eerie experience walking through usually packed streets, such as Bui Vien in District 1, but still I remained calm.”
Mr Hinds said the media in Vietnam blamed foreigners for the spread of the virus, which put him in the spotlight.
He added: “As a black man in Asia, I became used to the persistent staring and attention I have received throughout my travels this year.”
But he said: “All my interactions with locals in Vietnam were extremely positive up to this point, due to the friendly and welcoming nature of their culture.
“I was therefore alarmed when I started receiving contemptuous looks from locals.”
Mr Hinds added some of his fellow students on the course started to feel uncomfortable and left, because they feared they would miss their chance to get home because of the global travel shutdown.
He said teaching opportunities also dried up after his course was told they could no longer teach online, because of new visa restrictions. Mr Hinds added he felt a surge of panic when he was told Bermuda's airport had closed to commercial flights.
He said: “The news especially led to a feeling of anxiety and fear that up to this moment I had never felt before.”
Mr Hinds added: “Two teachers I had met prior to the start of my course informed me that they had been put in government quarantine after going to a bar where someone had tested positive for Covid-19.
“The teachers were placed in a large room with multiple other individuals, where they were then quarantined for 14 days.”
Mr Hinds said others on his course had been to the same bar, which caused “mass panic” and led to most of course leaving the country, to avoid quarantine.
He added: “More updates on visa restrictions, stories of foreigners being held in quarantine and seeing the majority of those on my course leave Vietnam left me with a feeling of uncertainty and uneasiness.”