Vietnam is willing to dole cash out to citizens that have recently recovered from Covid to work alongside medical staff in hospitals to treat patients, as case rates soar and the country’s inoculation drive lags.

The initiative to pay recovered Covid patients was rolled out earlier this week in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam’s coronavirus hotspot, as medical personnel are out in full force testing and treating its 13 million-strong population.

As per a letter reviewed by Reuters from a head of a hospital involved in the program, “participants will be provided with personal protective equipment, food, accommodation and a monthly allowance of eight million dong ($350.80)”.

The move comes as Vietnam’s inoculation campaign is lagging, with only around 18 million vaccines administered across its 98 million population. On Tuesday, the south-east Asian nation’s Prime Minister, Pham Minh Chinh, pleaded with the World Health Organization (WHO) to urgently dispatch as many jabs as possible to Vietnam through the COVAX vaccine sharing scheme.

Citizens in Vietnam’s economic hub were plunged into a total shutdown on Monday after its residents were told to “stay put” to curb Covid cases from spiralling further. The country’s armed forces have been delivering food packages to some of its locked-down city dwellers that are prohibited from grocery shopping under the measures.

Over 14,000 medical staff and health workers have been mobilized to aid in the fight against the coronavirus in Ho Chi Minh City and its neighboring provinces since the beginning of July, according to the health ministry.

Vietnam, once praised for its containment of the coronavirus, has been battered during its fourth wave, which struck the nation at the end of April, recording almost all of its 381,359 cases since spring. Its Covid fatalities stand at over 9,300.

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