White protective sterile face masks via iStock / mihalec

Vietnamese community in Czech Republic unites in fight against COVID-19 epidemic

Vietnamese in the Czech Republic have offered free drinks to the police, firefighters and rescuers, made face masks, and provided help for hospitals

Prague, March 25 (CTK) – The Vietnamese in the Czech Republic are involved in the fight with the COVID-19 disease epidemic, offering free drinks to the police, firefighters and rescuers, making face masks and providing material and financial help for hospitals.

They show immense solidarity during the coronavirus outbreak though many of them, as foreign citizens, do not have the right to financial compensation from the Czech state.

Minh Maie, coordinator from the Viet Up organisation, says the Vietnamese living in the Czech Republic welcome and respect the government anti-coronavirus measures.

On the other hand, some customers are complaining that Vietnamese are selling overpriced face masks and disinfectants in their convenience shops. However, the Finance Ministry points out that the prices of these items are not regulated by the state.

“One cannot say they are overpriced, as their prices are not regulated by any directive,” Czech Retail Inspection (COI) spokesman Jiri Frohlich told CTK today.

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“The Vietnamese are helping hospitals, the Integrated Rescue System and citizens materially and financially as the only foreigners in our country. They are thereby proving that the Czech Republic is their second home,” Czech-Vietnamese Association honorary chairman and spokesman Marcel Winter told CTK.

Many owners of Vietnamese convenience stores have marked their shops with a red heart, which means that the Integrated Rescue System (IZS) members can get coffee, tea and other refreshment for free there.

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In the Usti Region, north Bohemia, the Vietnamese are collecting money for medical ventilators the local Masaryk hospital needs for the COVID-19 patients in a serious condition.

In Prague and other towns, the Vietnamese are sewing face masks that are being sent to doctors, nurses, police officers and the elderly. Some 200 Vietnamese seamstresses are making face masks for Prague hospitals now within the Viet Up organisation, the NGO, focused on cohabitation of the Czech majority society and the Vietnamese community in the country, said on its website.

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The government strict measures to curb the coronavirus spread will also affect the economic situation of the Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic as many Vietnamese are running restaurants and fast food establishments, shoe and fashion stores as well as cosmetic and nail studios.

The crisis will also afflict the latest wave of Vietnamese immigrants working in plants where the job numbers are expected to be cut.

Moreover, many Vietnamese living and working in the Czech Republic are citizens of Vietnam, and consequently, they are not entitled to the government financial compensation to ease the coronavirus economic impact.

“If need be, we will ask the government to take it into consideration in the case of compensations that the Vietnamese, as the only foreigners in the Czech Republic, are helping,” Winter said today.

The Vietnamese make up the third largest minority in the Czech Republic, after Slovaks and Ukrainians. Some 61,000 Vietnamese lived in the Czech Republic at the end of 2018, according to the data of the Czech Statistical Office (CSU).

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