Nearly 1,600 workers at a supermarket chain tested positive for coronavirus when the fourth Covid wave in HCM City reached its peak over the summer. One of them died.
Shoppers queue up for hours at supermarket
The figures point to the difficulties that the HCM City distribution system had to face to ensure an uninterrupted supply of food and necessities during lockdown.
Deputy Director of Saigon Co-op Le Truong Son was on the verge of tears when recalling the tough days when the retail chain faced unprecedented difficulties.
The chain has 19,000 workers, including 8,000 in HCM City. On peak days, nearly 1,600 workers of the chain tested positive for coronavirus. Of these, 1,400 cases in HCM City were put under quarantine, and one of them died because of Covid-19.
“This was a heavy price the enterprise had to pay to maintain operations during the pandemic,” Son said.
Ly Kim Chi, Chair of the Food and Foodstuff Association (FFA), commented that businesses had never before had to experience such tough days without any preparation.
Chi said they thought that the distribution system could not overcome the difficulties. Some owners of large enterprises burst into tears, saying they couldn’t respond promptly to the pandemic developments.
The problems in goods transport affected production and distribution. The lack of lemongrass and onions, for example, made it impossible to produce a complete package of instant noodles.
The HCM City Industry and Trade Department acknowledged the inconsistency among branches and localities in regulating pandemic prevention and control.
The deployment of anti-pandemic regulations was not uniform among localities. The regulations and procedures for the procurement of materials and equipment serving pandemic prevention and control were complicated. All these things had an adverse effects on the operation of distribution companies.
HCM City Vice Mayor Phan Thi Thang at a meeting reviewing goods supply in HCM City during the fourth outbreak recognized the great efforts by distributors to ensure food and goods supply to city residents.
She said workers of retail chains worked hard despite the low business efficiency at that sensitive moment. Supermarket chains had to run at 300-400 percent of capacity to ensure food supply. Some businesses conducted operations they normally did not do in order to help the city.
A report by HCM City People’s Committee showed that most of the activities of the distribution system have returned to normal while strictly observing anti-pandemic measures (167 of 234 traditional markets, two-thirds of wholesale markets, 237 supermarkets, 46 shopping centers and 3,000 convenience stores).
Gardeners, farms and cooperatives need to sell 700 tons of longan a day, but collectors and distributors cannot access the growing areas because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Only when Vietnam can bring its farm produce to official distribution systems in countries will Vietnam’s national brand be well known by consumers around the world, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan said.