For greater than 20 years, the husband and spouse have been stalwarts of their evangelical neighborhood in southern Vietnam: pastors of a small Protestant church the place they distributed meals and clothes to the needy of Ho Chi Minh Metropolis.
Now, the couple are pariahs. They’ve been blamed by the authorities for a significant coronavirus outbreak, are going through a legal investigation and have been held accountable on social media for a lockdown of their neighborhood and a ban on spiritual companies nationwide.
The couple, Phuong Van Tan and Vo Xuan Mortgage, who’re hospitalized with Covid-19, are accused of permitting parishioners to wish collectively with out carrying masks, a violation of coronavirus protocols that officers say resulted in an outbreak in Could linked to greater than 200 instances.
Well being officers imagine that the outbreak began with Ms. Mortgage, who traveled to Hanoi, the capital, in late April and started experiencing signs about two weeks later. They contend that churchgoers gathered in shut quarters for his or her companies, didn’t put on masks and didn’t report their diseases.
“Nowadays, in our hospital beds, we grieve each bodily and mentally about what’s going on,” Mr. Tan, 60, wrote in a Fb publish, wherein he requested for forgiveness. “On behalf of your entire church, my spouse and I, as pastors, want to sincerely apologize to all of the neighborhood.”
Ms. Mortgage, 65, contradicted the official account of her sickness. She believes that she contracted the virus after coming back from Hanoi and was not the supply of the cluster. She additionally denied that parishioners had gathered with out carrying masks.
“I’m the one who at all times requested folks from my church to put on a masks,” she mentioned by telephone from the Hospital for Tropical Ailments in Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, the place she is being handled. “I introduced masks to all of the folks of the church and to folks in the neighborhood.”
Vietnam saved the coronavirus at bay for greater than a 12 months. However the church cluster, outbreaks at factories within the nation’s north and the emergence of a troubling new variant all counsel that the nation’s luck is perhaps operating out because the virus resurges in elements of Southeast Asia. Greater than half of Vietnam’s 7,800 instances have occurred up to now month.