HANOI: Tens of thousands of people, mostly migrant workers, left Ho Chi Minh City over the weekend as the largest metropolis in Vietnam eased a months-long COVID-19 lockdown, triggering fears of labour shortages and more disruption to manufacturing.
The mass exodus comes as the city and its nearby industrial provinces struggle to ensure sufficient workers to help revive the country’s economy, which posted a record gross domestic product slump in the third quarter due to COVID-19 curbs.
“We left our home behind for the city in search for better jobs but now we are tired,” said Tran Thi Them, 32, as she queued for a compulsory COVID-19 test before leaving.
“We are going home to farm and raise cattle,” she said, as she headed to her village in Dong Thap province in the Mekong River Delta with her husband and their eight-month-old baby.
Them lost her job at a garment factory in July, when the city began imposing curbs, and has been confined to her 10 sq m rented room amid restrictions on leaving the house.
Nearly 90,000 people have left Ho Chi Minh City since Friday (Oct 1), state media reports show, on worries they would get stuck again if there was another wave of infections. The city eased curbs from late Thursday.
“Please don’t leave, and stay to work,” said vice chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, Le Hoa Binh.
“The city is facing serious labour shortages.”