Day 1

Vietnam’s version of China’s Wuhan-style lockdown has begun. The Communist Party of Vietnam has brought Sài Gòn, a once bustling Southeast Asian metropolis, to a halt. Everything, now including food and convenience stores, pharmacies and delivery services, have been closed and everyone has been ordered to stay at home. Outside of China, I don’t know of another country that had made such an extreme decision. It’s emblematic of a complete failure in governance. There are many Americans that think President Trump, or their state and local governments, should have done more as COVID-19 was spreading throughout the U.S. in 2020, but they fail to realize that only a thin line stands between democracy and communism. It comes down to decisions.

The three days leading-up to today, August 23rd, were not only chaotic but also confusing. The Communist Party of Vietnam hadn’t determined the final set of regulations for this elevated lockdown until yesterday afternoon. Per guidance from the day before, households within so-called green and orange zones would be allowed to go food shopping once each week. Some people were relieved. But the feeling was short-lived as the Communist Party of Vietnam reversed, without an apology or excuse, that decision the next day. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised because there was a lot of confusion over what were green, orange and red zones. Maps and lists of the neighborhoods in each zone shared on Facebook were being labeled as fake news even though they were derived from Bando, a government source, cited by Vietnam’s state-controlled media. Here’s an article from Vietnam News with the link.

Food shopping was chaotic on Friday once the news broke and didn’t let up over the weekend. Even though the Communist Party of Vietnam never told anyone to make preparations for being confined at home at least until September 6th and went so far as ensuring everyone would have food supplied to them by the military, a decision that was also reversed yesterday, many people took to the food stores assuming the worst. We bought about four months’ worth of grocery shopping in those three days.

The chaos didn’t end there though. Due to COVID-19 prevention measures, buildings have been restricting the number of passengers in an elevator to one or one household only. Elevator bays got so busy that security and receptionists were forced to ask people to stay at home over a building’s loudspeakers. I don’t think many people listened to them. We sure didn’t.

Except for knowing outside is off-limits, I haven’t really been affected by the new lockdown measures. Your mother, on the other hand, has more free time because she can’t work, which rightfully unsettles her but is okay otherwise. Your grandmother also has more free time because she can’t help your mother work. As for you, there’s no change. We, unfortunately, haven’t been able to take you outside since late-April/early-May.

Regarding our food supply, I don’t think either of us have ever had as much food at one time than we have now. Among notable items, we have about 32.5 kgs of rice, about 40 pieces of chicken breast, the equivalent of three boxes of dried noodles and four cartons of eggs. That should last more than two weeks. I’m hoping that it’ll hold us over until the full lockdown is lifted plus a few days more because I don’t want to stand in anymore lines, but that might be wishful thinking. Unless the COVID-19 positive case count goes significantly down, I think it’s likely the Communist Party of Vietnam won’t waver. My gut feeling is that meaningful progress won’t be seen until after the second week. About 4,000 new cases have been reported each day for the last week in Sài Gòn and 3,000 in bordering Bình Dương.

Although we have a lot of food, your mother and grandmother should feel the pinch first. I suspect that we’ll start running low on vegetables by the fifth day. Since they cook vegetable dishes every day, I don’t know how they’ll feel when we run out of them. Hopefully, a mythical government-led vegetable delivery will happen beforehand.

Since my diet goes largely unchanged from day-to-day, I should be fine. Chicken and kimchi have been my main staples for about five and three years, respectively. I’ve ate both so frequently that I don’t find them repulsive. I’ll save those stories for another entry.

As for you, if you had asked me this morning, I would have told you that we bought enough formula for you for at least the next 60 days. However, after realizing today how much more you’ve started consuming recently, I’m not sure. That 60 days could very well be somewhere between 30 and 45 days, which still should be sufficient. I think we’re good on diapers as well but we’ll see.

We should have enough food to survive for two to three weeks, nonetheless. But it’d really suck being the person who woke-up today only to find out that the whole city had been entirely locked-down. Those people exist, believe it or not. One woman had tried to order something from your mother this morning only to find out the bad news. It wasn’t long ago that the Communist Party of Vietnam publicly called these new measures, “fake news”.

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